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Full text of "The story of the Thirty-second regiment, Massachusetts infantry. Whence it came; where it went; what it saw, and what it did"

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Thirty-Second Regiment 





iSSo. . 


C. W. CALKINS & CO., Printers, 
286 Washington St., Boston. 







On page 3, twelfth line, for " Brevet Brigadier-General," read 
" Colonel." Colonel Prescott was never breveted. 


This book is not a history of the civil war, nor even 
of the Army of the Potomac ; but merely the story of one 
of the regiments which composed that Army. It does not 
relate the biography of the many distinguished generals 
under whose command the battalion served, and the 
endeavor has been made to exclude from it not only dis- 
cussions as to the merits of individuals, but even favorable 
or unfavorable opinions, save when the facts related 
implied or seemed to require such reflections. 

The book is intended chiefly to collect and present in 
narrative form, descriptions of some of the experiences of 
our Regiment, in order to preserve them in the memory of 
those who were actors in the scenes described, and enable 
the officers and men of the 33d to place in the hands of 
their children and friends vivid pictures of the dangers, 
trials, and pleasures which attended the service of our 
soldiers in the war for the Union. 

In the preparation of the book, I have received, and 
gratefully acknowledge, the assistance of many of my old 
comrades, officers, and men, not only ])y way of incidents 
related verbally, but also — and this especially concerning 
events which occurred after my own resignation — by way 
of written contributions. Many of these are embodied in 
the text almost in the language of the writers, and others 
in a more or less condensed form. Among those to whom 
I am thus indebted should be particularly named General 



Luther Stephenson, jr., Surgeon Z. B. Adams, Major E. 
S. Farnsworth, General J. A. Cunningham, Sergeant 
S. C. Spaulding, Major Ambrose Bancroft, Captains G. 
W. Lauriat and J. C. Fuller ; and last, but by no means 
least. Surgeon W. L. Faxon and Mrs. Faxon, whose 
memories have provided stores of incident. To Colonel 
I. F. Kingsburv I am indebted for the result of time- 
consuming researches in the Adjutant-General's Depart- 
ment of the vState. 

While making these just acknowledgments I absolve 
all those named from any responsibility for such literary 
imperfections as may appear herein and. assuming to 
myself all blame for such defects, must ask my readers to 
consider in charity to me the difficulties which must attend 
a work so composed, and at the last somewhat hastily 

F. J. P. 

Boston, April 30th, 1880. 


Preface vii 

In Garrison i 


On our own Hook 28 


On the Peninsula 43 

Campaigning under Pope 64 


Our Third Battalion 75 



The Antietam Campaign 85 

After Antietam . , 107 

To Fredericksburg iiy 

Between Campaigns 136 


Chancellorsville 150 

Fredericksburg to Gettysburg 159 

After Gettysburg 175 

A Lady at Winter Quarters 183 

At Liberty 189 


Out on Picket 196 

On Furlough 204 

The Wilderness Campaign 20S 

The Bomb Proofs 223 

Our Corps Hospital 2zS 


About Petersburg 234 


The Last Campaign 245 


Thirty-Second Regiment 



' I TIE story of the 32d Massachusetts Infantry was, 
-■' of course, in most respects like that of others, 
but not in all. The immortal Topsy thought she was 
not made, but " 'spect she growed." So our regi- 
ment was not made a regiment at the start, but it 
grew to be one. Other battalions from New Eng- 
land gathered into camps and acquired their prelim- 
inary education among neighbors, and cheered by 
the presence of visitors, who looked on and admired 
their guard-mountings at morning, and their dress- 
parades at evening ; and these hardened into soldiers 
by a rough experience in mud or dust on the line of 
the Potomac, while our beginning was in a walled 
fort, on a bleak island, isolated even from the visits 
of friends, and under the most exact discipline of 
ante-bellum regular-army rule. 

B 1 


Fort Warren, which was our cradle, is the outpost 
of Boston, and it was very nearly, but not entirely, 
completed when the war broke out. Until 1861 it 
had never been occupied as a military post. The 
1 2th and 14th Massachusetts had been in occupation 
of the island while the organization of those battal- 
ions was in progress, during the summer of that 
year, and when they left, the post was somewhat 
hurriedly prepared for the reception of prisoners, 
a large number having been captured in North 
Carolina by the column under General Burnside. 

Early in the autumn of the year 1861 Colonel 
Justin E. Dimmock was assigned to the command at 
Fort Warren. At the first outbreak of the rebellion 
this patriotic officer, fortunatel}' for the cause of the 
Union, was in command at Fort Munroe, and resist- 
ing every attempt made upon his loyalty, he held 
that important post for the government under whose 
flag he had fought, and in whose service he had 
passed his active life. 

As the war progressed Fort Munroe became a 
great centre for the operations of the army, and the 
duties required of its commandant were too severe for 
a man of Colonel Dimmock's age and infirmities, and 
he was transferred to the more quiet scenes in 
Boston Harbor. A temporary garrison was detailed 
from the 24th Massachusetts Infantry, then in pro- 
cess of formation, but upon the application of Colo- 
nel Dimmock, a new battalion of four companies of 
infantry was raised to be used as a garrison until the 
exigencies of the service required their presence 


elsewhere, and this body of men, called the First 
Battalion Massachusetts Infantry, relieved the same 
number of companies of the 24th. 

Company A, recruited in Hingham by Captain 
(afterward Brevet-Brigadier-General) Luther Ste- 
phenson, jr., was mustered into service November 
i6th, 1861, and reported for duty at the fort on the 
following day. Charles A. Dearborn, jr., was First 
Lieutenant, and Nathaniel French, jr., Second 

Company B. recruited in Concord, Massachusetts, 
by Captain (afterward Brevet-Brigadier-General) 
George L. Prescott, was mustered in November 15th, 
1861. Cyrus L. Tay, First Lieutenant, and Isaiah 
F. Hoyt, Second Lieutenant. 

Company C, recruited in Boston by Captain Jona- 
than Pierce, was mustered in November i6th, 1861. 
Joseph Austin, First Lieutenant, and Robert Hamil- 
ton, Second Lieutenant. 

Company D was recruited in Gloucester, and was 
almost entirely composed of fishermen and sailors. 
It was commanded b}^ Captain James P. Draper. 
The late Adjutant-General James A. Cunningham 
was First Lieutenant, and Stephen Rich, Second 

These companies were rapidly recruited, and were 
immediately despatched to their post, no time being 
allowed for drill, and hardly time to say good-bye. 
It may be presumed that when they reported, their 
discipline was nothing, and their ideas of military 
order exceedingly crude. 


Perhaps this was more particularly the case with 
Company D, which, as we have already said, was 
composed almost entirely of Gloucester fishermen, — 
or it may have been the excessive hospitality of the 
friends of that company, that led to a little scene im- 
mediately upon its arrival. 

The more jovial of the soldiers were weeded out 
at the landing, and quietly deposited in the guard- 
house ; the remainder were marched into the fort, 
and soon after to the cook house, where an ample 
supper of soft bread and tea awaited them. A 
few months later such a repast would have been 
hailed as the height of luxury, but by the raw sailor- 
soldiers it was now regarded with contempt. The 
loaves, instead of being devoted to their proper use 
as the staff' of life, were converted into missiles, and 
the air was alive with them, — the dim evening light 
favoring an impartial distribution. 

In the midst of the racket. Colonel Dimmock ap- 
peared upon the scene, lantern in hand, and imme- 
diately received plump in the head one of the finest 
of the loaves, which, with a refinement of ingenuity, 
had been dipped in hot tea. The scene which fol- 
lowed was one not easily to be forgotten. The out- 
raged old soldier dashed in among the turbulent 
men, and by his habit of command at once over- 
awed and controlled them. Ordering them into a 
line, throwing some into position apparently by main 
strength, he passed along the ranks, throwing his 
light into each face until he came to the real culprit, 
six solid feet of man and tar, whose face declared 


his guilt. Seizing the burly giant by the arm, the 
old colonel fairly dragged him out of the casemate, 
as if he had been a child ; but when the man had 
humbled himself sufficiently, protesting that "he 
didn't mean anything," the commandant dismissed 
him after a brief but forcible lecture on discipline, 
and an injunction to beware of any second offence. 

Late in November the battalion organization was 
completed by the appointment of the Field and 
Staff, Francis J. Parker, Major; Charles K. Cobb, 
Adjutant ; and George W. Pearson, Quartermaster ; 
and the Major assumed command December 2d, 

The Post-Commander, Colonel Justin E. Dim- 
mock, was also Colonel of the First United States 
Artillery, and the headquarters of the regiment was 
with him ; but with the exception of the excellent 
band of the regiment, there were none other of its 
officers or men at the post. 

Fort Warren at this time was occupied as a depot 
for Confederate war and state prisoners — the former 
consisted mainly of some 800 men, captured in 
North Carolina, and included also a number of 
Confederate officers, among whom were Commo- 
dore Barron and Colonel Pegram ; and among the 
latter were the Confederate ambassadors. Mason 
and Slidell, Mayor Brown, Chief of Police Kane 
of Baltimore, and others. 

The first duty to be taught and learned under 
such circumstances was guard duty, and that was no 
holiday work. The daily detail consisted of about 


seventy-five men, and was divided into the interior 
and exterior guard. During the daytime a line of 
sentinels enclosed a space in front of the prisoners' 
quarters, within which they were permitted to exer- 
cise, and these sentinels at retreat were drawn in to 
the casemate entrances. Guards were also placed 
at the sally-port and postern, and near the stair- 
cases leading up to the ramparts. Outside, a picket 
line entirely surrounded the fortifications ; watch 
being kept not only to prevent escape from within, 
but also to forbid the approach of boats from the sea 
or the shore. 

Such duty on a bleak island, exposed to the terri- 
ble cold and storms of a New England winter, was 
no pastime. Occasionally some of the outposts 
would be untenable by reason of the dash of waves, 
and often inspection and relief of the posts was 
effected with great difiiculty because of the icy con- 
dition of the ground. In the most severe storms 
the guard was replaced by patrols, each of two men, 
who walked the line, one patrol being despatched 
every fifteen or twenty minutes. 

One dark howling night the sentinel, on post 
near what was called the grave-yard, reported to 
the ofScer that a white form had twice passed 
between him and the fort, and upon close question- 
ing the soldier admitted that he had not challenged, 
because he feared it was a ghost. There was con- 
siderable stir, in and outside the fort, until an inspec- 
tion had shown that no prisoner had escaped and 
no intruder could be found. 


The sentinel was allowed two hours of extra 
guard duty, and an order was posted at the guard 
house denouncing severe punishment in any future 
case where ghosts were allowed to pass a beat with- 
out challenge and arrest. 

Inasmuch as many who will read these pages may 
never have seen the inside of a fort, a few words 
descriptive of Fort Warren, may not be amiss. 

The Fort proper is constructed almost entirely of 
hewn granite. The area enclosed is not far from 
six acres, of which the parade ground occupies five. 
The general form of the area is a pentagon, but at 
each of its five angles a bastion projects in such 
manner that every portion of the ditch which sur- 
rounds the walls, can, in case of need, be reached 
by musketry and howitzers from the casemates. 

This area is surrounded by casemated walls, 
which are in fact huge bomb-proof buildings, 
structures of stone with heavy arches of brick to 
support the great mass of earth which is required to 
protect them from shells thrown from mortars. In 
these casemates are quarters for the officers and 
men of the garrison, magazines for ammunition, 
storehouses for all manner of supplies, a hospital of 
generous dimensions, a huge cistern for water, an 
ice-house, cook, and mess-room, besides space for a 
large battery of heavy guns facing towards the sea. 
Some of these vaulted chambers are lighted through 
the outer walls by means of embrasures calculated 
for howitzers, or by loop-holes intended for defence 


by musketry. Others look out upon the parade 
ground, and have upon that face the appearance of 
stone dwellings of one storey, entered by ordinary 
doorways, and lighted through spacious windows. 
Those which occupy the northwest side of the 
parade are of two stories, one being below the level 
of the interior grade. These are for use as officers' 
quarters, and during the war, those which are 
entered from the doors nearest to, and on either side 
of the entrance arch, were occupied by the civilians 
and officers among the prisoners confined in the 

The interior depth of the casemates, from the 
inner to the outer wall, does not var}^ much from 
sixty feet, giving ample space, equal indeed to the 
depth of a large city residence. The barracks for 
the soldiers are divided into rooms, generally about 
sixty by twenty feet, and during a part of the war 
many of them were assigned to the enlisted men 
who were prisoners. 

A full garrison for Fort Warren would be not far 
from twenty -five hundred men, and that number 
could be quartered in the casemates. 

Above these buildings are the ramparts, on which 
the chief part of the armament is placed, and these 
ramparts are walled in by a parapet of about five feet 
in height, of very thick masonry, intended to pro- 
tect the men while working the guns, from the fire 
of an enemy. These ramparts are. now provided 
with a full armament of ten inch and fifteen inch 
guns, placed as near together as convenience in 


working would permit, but in our day the greater 
part of the guns were four inch and thirty-two 
pounders, the casemate battery alone, consisting of 
eight inch columbiads. 

The entire equipment of the Fort comprises over 
three hundred of these heavy guns, of which some 
seventy may always be concentrated upon any one 
point of the channel which they defend. Outside, 
and immediately surrounding the walls of the case- 
mated fort is a fosse, or ditch, some fifty feet in 
width, and outside of this are other defences, (which 
outwardly, are earthworks,) including an exterior 
curtain on the north, a ravelin on the south, and a 
water battery on the northwest, the whole composing 
in fact a fortress of great strength, even in these 
days of iron-clads and great guns. 

To one who thoroughly explores the Island there 
will recur vivid reminiscences of the mysterious cas- 
tles of romance and of history. He will find here a 
sally-port, a postern, a drawbridge, and a portcullis. 
Here, too, are passages under ground and in the 
walls ; turret staircases, huge vaulted apartments, 
and safe and dark dungeons, the ways to and 
through which may be set down upon the plans of 
the engineer corps, but are familiar to no living 
man. One can be easily bewildered among the 
crooks and turns, the ups and downs of the corri- 
dors, and it needs only a dark and windv night to 
make almost real the romantic descriptions of the 
Castle of Udolfo, with its clanging sounds of chains, 
its sweeping gusts of air, its strange moanings and 


howlings, and the startling noise of some sudden 
clang of a shutting door reverberating among the 

More than twelve years had passed since the 3 2d 
Regiment left Fort Warren for more stirring scenes, 
when the writer for the first time since that day, 
again visited the Island. 

Escaping for a time from the courteous hospitality 
of the officers of the post, he started alone through 
the once accustomed scenes. Grim visaged war 
had smoothed his wrinkled front. There were no 
sentinels to challenge or salute ; no familiar faces in 
the well-remembered quarters. Even the uniforms 
were changed ; officers seemed to be wearing ser- 
geants' stripes on their trousers, and unknown orna- 
ments on their shoulders. There were women about 
the landing, newspapers in the guard-house ( ! ) , and 
a peaceful fishing pole and tackle leaned quietly 
against the sole survivor of all our sentry boxes. 

The doorways to the officers' casemates were 
shielded from the hot sun by gaily painted, veranda- 
like porches, about which shrubs and vines, with 
bright foliage and blossoms, glistened in the sun- 
light, and in the very room where erstwhile Mason 
and Slidell pursued the warlike game of poker, and 
spat upon the bare flooring, there was a most lady- 
like parlor, with carpets, mirrors, and an attractive- 
looking case of book-shelves, well loaded with 
seemly books. 

Again was paced the line of our outposts. Every 
step awakened old memories — every pebble seemed 


a friend ; but there was no ice upon the glacis or 
the "shelf" at post eighteen, and instead of the 
cold winds, came grateful breezes from the sea, 
which no longer leaden in color dashed against the 
rock, but blue and smooth basked in the hot noon- 
day, and laughingly rippled on the beach. It would 
have been a sad walk but for the beauty of the 
summer scenes — it would have been a joyous one 
but for clinging memories. 

During the time of our stay in garrison at Fort 
Warren, the battalion was increased to six compa- 
nies by the addition of Companies E and F, 
recruited during the winter. 

Company E was raised in the Old Colony by Cap- 
tain Cephas C. Bumpus. First Lieutenant, Josiah 
C. Fuller ; Second Lieutenant, Lyman B. Whiton. 
The Company was mustered into service December 
7th, 1861, and joined immediately. 

Company F was enlisted in Boston, also by Cap- 
tain Bumpus, who was detailed for the duty, and 
was mustered in about the first of March, 1861, its 
officers being, Captain, James A. Cunningham ; 
First Lieutenant, Charles K. Cobb, (Adjutant) ; 
Second Lieutenant, William H. Gertz. 

The breaking in of the men was upon the regular- 
army system ; first each man was "set up" by him- 
self, then the drill was in squads, in increasing num- 
bers, and afterward in company and battalion. 
When the weather was such as absolutely to forbid 
out-of-door drill, the men were taught in the school 
of artillery, and practiced on the great guns in the 
casemate battery. 


The most exact discipline was necessarily main- 
tained, and as soldierly discipline is only to be 
obtained by close attention to minutiae — not even 
things apparently trifling were neglected. The fact 
that one button of a soldier's overcoat was not fast- 
ened, was noted and the parade was stopped until 
the defect was remedied. No soldier was allowed 
to sit in the presence of an officer. The regulation 
salutes proper to each rank were required and paid 
by officers and men, sentinels and the guard. 
Adhering to the letter of the regulations, our manual 
was that of Scott, because we were armed with mus- 
kets, not rifles. Every nook and corner of every 
barrack and bunk, and every portion of the dress of 
every officer and man, must at all times be satisfac- 
tory to the keen and critical eye of an "old army" 

All of this was needed to make perfect soldiers, 
and all of it was readily accepted and observed by 
the men, more than nine-tenths of whom were 
American born, in order that they might become 
good soldiers. Singularly enough it was more diffi- 
cult to bring the officers to exact the honors due to 
rank, than the soldiers to yield them. 

Army officers often expressed their surprise at the 
rapidity with which a command so essentially native, 
was brought to the extreme of army discipline, and 
almost without punishment. This result was a 
complete proof that intelligent Americans can be 
brought into a state of thorough and exact dis- 
cipline more readily, by reason of their intelligence, 


than the uneducated immigrants who were once 
thought to make better soldiers because of their 
comparative ignorance. Of course there were occa- 
.sional extra hours of guard duty for men returning 
from leave on shore — people on the mainland were 
so very hospitable — but rarely was any more serious 
correction requisite. 

There was one case, a second offence perhaps, 
where the sinner was put on special log dut^^ and 
he has since declared that it was sufficiently severe 
to keep him dry for six months. Two or three 
sticks of four-foot firewood, not excessively large, 
but good fair size, were placed in the bastion near 
the officers' quarters, and as many more at the 
extreme end of the parade, near the postern. The 
offender was ordered to shoulder a billet from one 
bastion, and to carry it in "common time" to the 
other ; there to lay it down, and taking up another, 
to return over his beat and deposit it at the place of 
departure — and so on for several hours. The pun- 
ishment consisted, not in the laborious character of 
his occupation, but in the fact that he knew it was 
useless labor, and that everybody else knew it also. 
The occasional inquiries or remarks of comrades 
about the profits of the carrying trade in fuel, may 
very likel}' have aggravated the penalty. 

Bearing in mind the fact that Great Britain was 
wroth at the seizure of the rebel envoys, and con- 
necting that with the other fact that a large fleet of 
British men-of-war was gathering at Halifax, it 
seemed possible that a demonstration might be made 


for the recovery of the lost plenipos ; and it was, 
perhaps, natural that some interest should be felt as 
to our ability to repel attack, or to endure blockade, 
and, of course, as to the amount of our stores of 
food and ammunition. 

Perhaps it was just as well for us at this time that 
no enemy appeared, for our stock of fixed ammuni- 
tion consisted of thirty rounds, borrowed from Fort 
Independence. We were unable to salute the Gover- 
nor, on his visit, for want of powder, and months 
passed before our magazines contained shot, shell, 
or powder in any more respectable quantity. 

The duties of our battalion at Fort Warren were 
of course entirely military. The affairs of the 
prisoners were administered by Colonel Dimmock 
and his staff, — one of whom inspected the quarters 
every day to see that all of the prisoners were pres- 
ent ; and all their correspondence and communica- 
tions with the outside world passed under the eye of 
the post officers. 

No prisoners could be better cared for or more 
considerately treated. Each was allowed the full 
ration of a soldier, and was even allowed to com- 
mute the ration and expend the money for other 
food. A liberal portion of the lading of the steamer, 
whose daily visit was our only tie to the continent, 
was made up of purchases and gifts for these guests 
of the nation, and their messes were always abund- 
antly supplied both with solids and fluids. 

Mr. Mason was a portly gentleman, evidently 
accustomed to good living ; rather jovial in his ap- 


pearance, and courteous in his manner. He took 
matters very easily, and seemed in no haste to de- 
part. Mr. Slidell, on the contrary, a lean and 
dyspeptic looking man, was fretful and impatient, 
and evidently chafed much under his confinement. 

Mayor Brown, of Baltimore, whose case was one 
of those which perhaps could not be entirely avoid- 
ed, of unjust continement, was always easy and 
bland in manner, and genial and affable to all about 
him, contrasting very decidedly with Kane, the 
Chief of the Baltimore Police, who was a thoroughly 
ugly specimen of a Maryland rebel. 

Later on we had the pleasure, for a time, to see 
with us General Tilghman, a merry, happy-go- 
lucky officer, and General Buckner, an excellent 
specimen of the ramrod soldier. 

The two last named were, for a time, by special 
order from Washington, kept in solitary confinement, 
— that is to say, each was assigned to a separate 
apartment in the basement of the commandant's 
quarters. Their rooms and their doors were exactly 
opposite each other, and a sentinel was posted in the 
passage to prevent escape or communication between 
them. Occasionally, when the weather was warm, 
they were allowed to leave their doors open, and on 
one such occasion the officer on his rounds at night 
found the sentinel slumbering on the floor, and the 
solitary prisoners having a good time together in one 
of the apartments. That soldier was not allowed 
to sleep a great deal for the next day or two. 

Colonel Dimmock declined an earnest invitation 
to pass Christmas eve and day in Boston, because. 


as he said, he knew that among southern people it 
was held to be a Christian duty to be royally drunk 
at yule tide, and his presence might be important. 
It was our impression that no violence was done to 
southern principles on that occasion. 

The first day of January, 1862, came, bringing 
with it a brisk gale ot wind from the eastward, thick 
lead-colored clouds, and occasional dashes of rain. 
It brought also a great excitement to our humdrum 
communitN'. A steam tug came to the wharf early 
in the morning, and its sole passenger, a civilian, 
was escorted to the quarters of the Commandant ; 
then the Colonel went in person to the quarters of 
our Major, and there was a conference ; then the 
drum-call sounded for parade earlier than usual, and 
by so many extraordinary occurrences our popula- 
tion was " convulsed with excitement." Very soon 
everybody knew that an order had been received 
for the release of Mason and Slidell. There was a 
great stir among the first circles of the prisoners, 
and we afterward learned that they and the envoys 
imagined that honors and salutes would be paid upon 
their departure. But in this expectation they were 
destined to disappointment. The precautions of 
Colonel Dimmock entirely prevented any semblance 
of honors, and even suppressed the exhibition of 
such curious interest as would naturally have attend- 
ed the incident. 

Two sections of men, specially detailed, were so 
posted as to prevent any person ascending to the 
ramparts. The battalion was kept under arms and 


exercise upon the parade, and the prisoners were 
notitied that unless they would give their parole not 
to make any noisy demonstrations, they would be 
confined to their casemates. And so it happened, 
that, except a noiseless waving of hands and hand- 
kerchiefs from their fellow-prisoners, the envoys re- 
ceived no attention from any one. As they passed 
out from the fort, escorted only by the Commandant, 
the officer of the day, and the agent of the State 
Department, the battalion stood in line of battle, 
with their backs to the envoys, with ordered arms 
and at parade rest. As they passed the guard 
house, the guard also stood at parade rest. Colonel 
Dimmock having waived the salute due to his rank, 
for fear that it might be claimed as an honor to his 
departing guests. 

The prolonged gale had caused the tide to flood 
the wharf, so that it was not easy or pleasant to pass 
over it to the tug boat. When underweigh not one 
person, except the sentinels on the outposts, could be 
seen on the island, and the driving rain and wind 
soon forced the passengers to seek the shelter of the 
cabin, which they found profusely decorated with 
the American flag. It is said that Mason spat and 
Slidell swore the whole of the rough voyage to 
Provincetown, in which secluded harbor a British 
man-of-war received them from the tug, without any 
demonstration, and at once put to sea. 

Among the prisoners at the fort was one Keene 
(?), who was kept in close confinement in a small, 
triangular room in the casemates, the only light to 



which came through a loophole in the masonry. He 
was a sailor, and it was said that he had attempted to 
blow up the frigate Congress with all on board, with 
which horrible design he had enlisted in our navy. 
He was oflered greater liberty if he would promise 
not to attempt an escape, but the ofter was declined. 
Afterward he refused to take an oath of allecjiance 
as the only condition for his release, and he was 
probably let loose at last without condition. 

We had a great desire to ascertain what time 
would be required for the formation of the battalion 
in case of nio;ht alarm, but Colonel Dimmock would 
not permit the beating of the long-roll for a mere 
experiment, because false alarms were forbidden 
by the regulations. Happily that invaluable code 
placed no restriction on the hours for parade, and 
when, by the absence of the Colonel, our Major was 
left in command of the post, the information was 

Tattoo had been sounded, roll-call was over, 
lights in the barracks were all out, and the men in 
bed and generally asleep. An extra guard was 
quietly posted in front of the prisoners' quarters, 
and a verbal message summoned the officers to head- 

When all were assembled they were told that it 
was desirable to know how soon, under such circum- 
stances, the battalion could be assembled, properly 
equipped and ready for duty. 

The order was given at eight minutes past ten, — 
the officers were obliged to equip themselves and to 


turn out, form and march their men on to the parade ; 
but in less than live minutes thp line was formed, 
with three-fourths of the whole force present. The 
inspection showed few deficiencies (one man, to be 
sure, forgot his trousers), and the experiment was 
quite satisfactory. 

We were not without occupation, nor even without 
our amusements through the long winter. The 
officers were fully occupied, in the intervals of duty, 
.in boneing over the tactics. To learn and teach 
both the infantry and artillery manual, as well as 
battalion movements, and at the same time to per- 
form the various duties of the post, implied no great 
amount of leisure, — on the part of the officers at 
least. But time was found for an occasional even- 
ing entertainment, including one or two excellent 

One evening there was a musical soiree in the 
quarters of Mr. Buell, one of the post staff', and two 
or three of the prisoners were present by his invita- 
tion ; among them was Colonel Pegram, of Virginia, 
who, being invited to sing, complied, and to the 
surprise of everybody selected the disloval song, 
" My Maryland," which he sang well to his own 
guitar accompaniment. When he stopped, there 
ensued for a minute or two an absolute and ominous 
silence, which was broken by our Captain Draper, 
who, with his ringing voice, began the patriotic 
song, "Vive TAmerica." The chorus was taken up 
by all the Union officers present, singing perhaps 
with more fervor than accuracv : — 


"United we stand, divided we fall, 
Union forever — freedom to all, 
Throughout the wide land our motto shall be 
Vive rAmerica, land of the free." 

At the close of the song Colonel Pegram compli- 
mented the singing, and frankly apologized for his 

At times the interior of the fort seemed better 
adapted for use as a skating rink than as a parade- 
ground. In the worst of such times the dress- 
parades w^ere omitted, and guard-mounting took 
place in the casemates ; but the marching of the 
reliefs over glare ice, in a high wind, did not convey 
the idea of an exact military movement. 

One of the men, engaged on a job of repairs, 
loaded up a light hand-cart with live or six boards, 
and essayed to pvish the load before him from the 
north-west bastion to the opposite side of the fort, 
while the ice was as smooth as a mirror, and a north- 
west gale blowing furiously. It was a slow process 
at the start, but when the team emerged from under 
the lee of the walls, the gale seized the whole con- 
cern, boards, cart, and man, and sent them in 
detached parties, whirling over the ice held. 

Our winter was a new experience to the North 
Carolina men, and no doubt they have yet great 
stories to tell of the snow and ice and cold, of a sea- 
coast everywhere bounded by rocks, and of a 
country where the woods were not all pines. And 
no doubt their hearers try to look as though they 
believed it all, but mutter, possibly, some truisms 
about soldiers' stories. 


One day in February, 1862, just after the mail- 
boat had left the fort not to return until the next day, 
we saw all about us on the main land indications 
that some joyful incident had occurred. All day 
long flags were profusel}" displayed and salutes were 
fired up and down the coast, and at night the 
horizon sparkled with fireworks and bonfires. For 
twenty-four hours we were left to guess at the cause 
of this rejoicing, but at last we too heard of the cap- 
ture of Fort Donelson and had our celebration. 

We always gave Colonel Dimmock credit for an 
act of kind thoughtfulness on this occasion. When 
the news came he remembered that he had an en- 
gagement "on shore," and announced that he should 
be absent for a day. "Of course," he said, "you will 
fire a salute, and I don't like the sound of great 
guns." The fact was, no doubt, that he feared that 
his presence might be a restraint upon our joviality, 
and for that reason he took himself away. There 
had been no talk of anything except the salute, but 
as he left the fort he turned to the Major and said, 
in his absent-minded way, " By the by, Major, when 
the men are allowed a little unusual liberty, unusual 
discretion is needed on the part of the- commanding 
officer, you know." 

From the time required to prepare for that salute, 
it was evident that the Alabama might have steamed 
up the channel and into Boston harbor before we 
could have brought any guns to bear upon her, but at 
noon the guns were manned and the salute was fired. 
While the preparations were in progress, the band- 


master of the ist Artillery presented himself at head- 
quarters to ask a favor. The last gun he had fired 
was the last from Fort Sumter, and he now re- 
quested permission to fire the first gun of the salute 
for the victory. Of course he was allowed to do so, 
and he was cheered as he went to his station. 

The Colonel was very chary of that band and we 
had never had any benefit from it ; but the Post being 
pro ton-pore under the command of our Major, they 
were turned out and made useful. All drills were 
suspended for the day. The men, in small parties, 
were allowed to stroll outside the walls. Some 
luxuries were added to the ration. The band played 
and the men danced to its music and skylarked 
generally. At night there was an illumination, 
masquerading, and singing, and for once tattoo did 
not sound at the time set down in the orders. 

A week later a detachment of prisoners from Fort 
Donelson was added to our establishment, mostly 
long, gaunt men, given to wearing sombrero hats, 
and chewing tobacco. With this party came Gen- 
erals Buckner and Tilghman. 

In February too, the last of the private soldiers, 
held at the fort as prisoners of war, were sent south 
to be exchanged. When the transport was ready 
for the embarkation, four negroes, servants to 
officers who were about to return home, asked to 
be allowed to accompany their masters. Colonel 
Dimmock, becoming satisfied that they preferred 
to go back to North Carolina, consented to allow 
them to do so, but took the not unnecessary pre- 


caution to have other evidence of the fact that they 
returned to shivery on their own motion, send- 
ing them with his orderly to the Major with the 
request that he would examine the "boys" and 
satisfy himself as to w'hether they went of their own 
accord — which the}' certainly did. 

As good-weather days became more frequent, our 
battalion, now of six companies, settled down more 
regularly to its work. At the request of our com- 
manding officer the full code of discipline, with no 
abatement because we were volunteers, was the rule 
bv which we were ijoverned, and no one was more 
surprised at the result than Colonel Dimmock. 

With the end of April, 1862, we had fairly drilled 
through the book, and on the tirst day of May the 
battalion was reviewed by Governor Andrew, and 
exercised in battalion movements in presence of the 
Governor and a staff which had become critical in 
military movements. At the close of the parade. 
Colonel Dimmock, who was not wont to abound in 
compliments, publicly congratulated the Major as 
the commander of a body of thoroughly-disciplined 

The Union armies were now everywhere victo- 
rious, and at the North we expected every day to 
hear that the rebels had come to that "last ditch." 
Wearying of the monotony, and in expectation of an 
early peace, the Major resigned, and on the 2d of 
May was relieved from duty and returned to his 
business life. To him the parting was unexpectedly 
trying, but people cannot be shut up together for live 
months without loving or hating each other. 



For weeks the duty went on, the command 
devolving upon Captain Stephenson, and the warm 
spring weather and longer days were improved to 
the utmost in keeping away the possibility of rust. 

The official acceptance of the Major's resignation 
had been received at the Post, but had not been pro- 
mulgated, when on the night following Sunday, 
May 25th, at an hour or more past midnight, a steam 
tug landed him at the Post, and a half hour later 
everybody was awake, and the fort was alive with 
the news that since the last sundown the ist Battalion 
had become the 3 2d Massachusetts Infantry — that 
Major Parker w^as promoted to the Lieutenant Colo- 
nelcy — that marching orders had been received — 
that Banks had been driven down the Shenandoah 
Valle}^ — that Washington was menaced by the 
forces under Stonewall Jackson — that the country 
had again been summoned to the defence of the 
capital — that at last our time had come. 

Whoever may read these sketches will pardon so 
much digression as will be required to describe one 
of the critical scenes of those exciting days. Sun- 
day evening, after ten o'clock, this writer was sitting 
in his library, having just finished the last cigar 
before bed-time, when there came a ring at the door- 
bell — one of those rings that tell a story of haste 
and excitement. 

At the door was a messenger, who informed the 
Major that the Governor desired to see him with- 
out delav, and that a carriage waited his conven- 


There was a word to say to the wife above stairs 
— there were boots and overcoat to be donned, but 
in two or three minutes the carriage was whirHng 
through the empty streets, and soon pulled up at the 
rear entrance to the Capitol. 

In the office of the Adjutant-General was Governor 
Andrew, busily writing at his desk and alone. His 
Excellency had remembered a parting request upon 
the occasion of the review, that the ist Battalion 
should not be allowed to go to the front under a 
stranger's command. The Major was shown the dis- 
patches of the night, and in them read a story of 
frantic terror at Washington and earnest pleading 
for speedy succor. By them the Governor was, 
within the limits of Massachusetts, invested with all 
of the President's power to command the United 
States forces, to raise troops, to transfer garrisons, 
to provide supplies and transportation, and through 
them all ran the tones of extremest panic and most 
earnest entreaty for help — speedy help. 

The Governor stated his intention under this 
authority to order away the six hundred men of the 
ist Battalion and offered to reappoint the commander. 
The offer was of course accepted and an hour 
quickly passed in drawing orders and requisitions, 
and completing arrangements for the earliest possi- 
ble departure of the command. The company of 
heavy artillery at Fort Independence was ordered 
to remove to Fort Warren, and the independent 
companies of Cadets were ordered there for garrison 
duty. There were orders, too, for levy en masse of 


the State militia for active service, and provision 
made for their equipment, subsistence, and rapid 

Officers of the Governor's and of the army staff 
came and went. Red tape broke at every order, 
and during this hour, as also for one nearer morning, 
while everybody strove to do his utmost to accom- 
plish results which seemed almost impossible, 
Governor Andrew was the busiest of the workers, 
radiant with the joy of one who possesses great 
powers, and who knows that he is wielding them 
effectually. All through the night came over the 
wires appeals for help and for haste, and always the 
Governor was cheery and full of faith, that, although 
the end might be farther awa}' than we had hoped, 
that end would be our success. 

It was a nioht, too, of hard work at Fort Warren 
— there were rations to be issued and cooked for the 
march ; there were equipments to be supplied, knap- 
sacks to be packed, property to be turned over, 
unnecessaries to be rid away, and last letters to be 
written ; but all was done before the relief garrison 
reported. At noon on Monda}' the regiment was 
relieved, and for the last time passed out of the 
sally-port and was on the march — glad to be out of 
jail, some said — glad to be moving to the front; 
all desiring to see that actual war for which they 
had passed through long and careful training, and 
anxious as new troops can be, for a share in the 
realities of the campaign. 


And so, embarking on the ferry-boat Daniel Web- 
ster^ we left Fort Warren, our cradle, with cheers 
for the good old Colonel, and with all the verses of 
the John Brown chorus ringing from six hundred 
throats to the accompaniment of our own drum 



CUNDAY, May 25th, 1862, the sun went down 
'^ on a people rejoicing in the confident expecta- 
tion of coming victory and an early peace. That 
sun next rose on a population deeply agitated with 
news of military disaster, but more warlike and more 
determined than ever. The appeals of the War 
Office at Washington, and the summons of our own 
Governor, met with an enthusiastic response ; the 
militia flocked to the rendezvous in Boston, and the 
city scenes were almost a repetition of the Lexington 
Day of the previous year. 

Not knowing that the Regiment was expected to 
appear on the Common, but knowing that our orders 
were urgent, the 32d marched by the most direct 
route through the city and to the railway, its wide 
platoons occupying the full space in the widest 
streets, bearing no flag, marching to its own field 
music, everywhere cheered by the excited populace, 
and drawing attention and applause by its unpreten- 
tious but soldierly appearance. 

At the Old Colony station, where a train was 
waiting, we stacked for the last time our smooth-bore 


muskets, and turned them over to Qji arte r master 
McKim. A long delay, occasioned by the unex- 
pected celerity of our movements, gave officers and 
men an opportunity to exchange greetings with and 
take leave of their friends, of whom the vast crowd 
seemed chiefly to be composed. 

There were meetings and partings between 
parents and children, husbands and wives, broth- 
ers and sisters ; there were friends of the men wlio 
desired to enlist and to go with them, and others 
who asked brief furloughs for those the}' loved, that 
the suddenness of departure might be a little soft- 
ened to those at home ; but on the part of the soldiers 
there were no such applications. There were mes- 
sages from many a quivering lip, sent to those who 
had not heard of the marching orders ; there was 
grasping of hands, man with man, which meant more 
than tongues could sa}' ; and wives were folded by 
husband's arms so tenderly as may never be but 
either in davs of early love or at the approach of 
final separation. 

And yet there was no cloud of sadness in the 
scene ; on ever}' side were words of cheer and 
encouragement — of loving hope and patriotic devo- 
tion ; and when a light-hearted soldier, whose home 
was so far away that none of his kin were there to 
say good-bye, asked if there was nobody there to kiss 
him, he came near being smothered by a crowd of 
volunteers ready to officiate, not only for his mother, 
but for all the rest of his female ancestr}'. 

At last came the regimental stores, for which we 
had waited, and with the call for "all aboard," the 


lust ties were broken, the last cheers were given, 
and the train drew slowly out from the station and 
from the city. But not away from tokens of good 
will. The country, too, was alive. Flags were 
streaming from every flag-staft', waving from the 
windows of the houses, and drooping from the spires 
of churches. 

Men, women, and children of all ages were at 
cottage doors and roadway crossings, and crowded 
the platforms at every station, to say or wave good- 
bye and God-speed to the foremost of the transport 
trains. We were soon at Fall River, on the steamer, 
and weary with excitement, the men speedily turned 
in and slept. 

For us there was next day no Broadway parade 
in New York city, but landing at Jersey City there 
was a haversack breakfast, and after some delay, 
another train, and we were off for Philadelphia, 
through a country whose people, in hamlet and in 
town, cheered the unknown soldiery, who all day 
long poured through toward the seat of war. At 
Philadelphia we shared the bounteous hospitality of 
the citizens, who provided most thoughtfully for all 
the troops who passed their gates. There was a 
long march through wide and straight streets, then 
another railwav embarkation, and then a long;, 
tedious, hesitating ride, reaching through the night, 
and it was early morning when we arrived at Balti- 
more and woke the drowsy people with the sound 
of Yankee Doodle as we marched through to the 
Washington railway. Here we found the 7th New 


York militia waiting- in the street for transportation 
to the Capital. More successful than they, we 
secured a train, which, after sev^eral hours, deliv- 
ered us safeh- in Washington, where we were glad 
to learn that we were the first troops to arrive on the 
call of the President, and that again Massachusetts 
was in the advance. 

Then followed a prolonged struggle with red tape, 
which would ha\'e told us, even if there had been no 
other source of information, that the scare was over 
and Washington safe. Before we could present our 
requisitions Ibr camp equipage, the otiice hours had 
passed, the officials were deaf to all our entreaties, 
and altliough we arrived as early as 2 P. M., we 
were compelled that night to occupy the hard 
floors of one of the railway buildings. 

When we came to look about us we were surprised 
to And that ours was the only infantry regiment at 
Washington, and we were poor lone orphans. We 
wanted tents, supplies, and a wagon train, but our 
requisitions were denied, because our Brigadier Gen- 
eral had not endorsed his approval. We attempted 
to explain that we had no Brigadier, and all Staff- 
dom stood aghast, — unable to take in the idea that 
there could be such a thing as a regiment with no 

Verily, we might have died of starvation but for 
the kindness of Adjutant General Townsend, who 
officially made a special order from the headquar- 
ters of the army, to suit our case, and personally 
suggested a site near the Washington Navy Yard, 

32 ox OUR OWN HOOK. 

known as Camp Alexander, as a convenient locality 
for our camp. The site was inspected, approved, 
and speedily occupied by us, and here passed four 
weeks of halcyon days. Our camp was pitched on 
a hiijh bluff overlookinij the eastern branch of the 
Potomac. The air was that of balmy June. No 
brigadier worried us — no up-and-awa}" orders dis- 
turbed us, and thanks to General Townsend's spec- 
ial order, our supplies were ample and regular. 

I3ut it was no idle time. A battalion which had 
alwa3's been restricted to the limits of an island fort, 
had occasion for much new practice, and the drills 
went briskly on. Especially was there need for 
practising in the use of legs, before marching orders 
should come, and therefore, ever}' other day the 
drills of the battalion comprised also a march, grow- 
ing longer day by day, until an eight-mile march 
was easily accomplished. 

Our evening parades became quite an attraction 
for visitors. Congressmen, senators, and even cabi- 
net secretaries came to be frequent guests, and the 
sunshine of ladies' presence, unknown to our pre- 
vious experience, gave brillianc^' to our lines and 
encouragement to our men. 

Washington was at this time in a state of siege, 
or according to our American phrase, under martial 
law. The great army, which a few months earlier 
had given to the district the appearance of a mili- 
tary camp, had moved on toward Richmond. One 
column was wading up the Peninsular, one was 
watchino- in the Shenandoah Vallev, one was cruard- 


ing the Piedmont Gaps, while McDowell, on the 
banks of the Rappahannock, was waiting the turn 
of events, and hoping for orders to join the force 
under McClellan, and so on to Richmond. 

The chain of detached forts about the Capital, 
were, however, fully garrisoned, and in the city a 
force of cavalry was doing the work of a provost 
guard. Mounted sentinels were stationed at the 
street corners, and detachments patrolled the outly- 
ing wards. The railway station was guarded, and 
passengers leaving town were obliged to pass the 
inspection of the soldiery. At the depots of the 
commissar3''s and the quartermaster's stores, at the 
entrances to hospitals, about the offices of the 
departments, and at the door of the Executive Man- 
sion, sentries were posted day and night. One 
was rarely out of sight and hearing of officers and 
orderlies, as they galloped over the rough pave- 
ments or trailed their sabres on the walks, and 
everywhere came and went the springless supply- 
wagons of the army, with their six-mule teams and 
postilion drivers. 

All this appearance of military rule and ward was 
no useless show. The city was full of enemies and 
spies. A large part of the resident population was 
hostile to the North. Very frequently at the 
approach of uniformed men, ladies gathered their 
skirts to prevent contaminating touch, and children 
shook their tiny tists and made grimaces of dislike. 

If there seemed to be exceptional cases where 
officers were welcomed by secessionists, men or 



women, the attentions were apt to end in a request 
for aid to procure passes through our lines, or in 
wily cross-examination about posts or movements of 
the troops. There was but little tinsel ; except at 
the barracks of the marine corps, where old tradi- 
tions were preserved, there were no epaulettes, no 
chapeaux, no plumes, but everything spoke of real 
war service. 

He who visits Washington now will tind it hard to 
realize that that beautiful capital is the same as the 
dust and inud-covered town of 1862. He who has 
known it only as the beleaguered cit}- of the war, 
would almost fail to recognize it in its changed con- 

It seemed at times as if we had been lost or tor- 
gotten by the war department ; but an occasional 
order, or the call for some report, betrayed a semi- 
consciousness of our existence. None of the authori- 
ties could take in the idea that we had only six com- 
panies, and when a funeral escort was wanted for 
the body of Lieutenant-Colonel Palmer, of the engi- 
neers, the order came to detail six companies, under 
a Lieutenant-Colonel, for that duty, and our com- 
manding officer thereupon detailed himself and his 
full command. 

This escort was, in all our history, the only in- 
stance of show duty. Our newly-joined Assistant- 
Surgeon Faxon, with such daring as could come 
only from raw ignorance, volunteered to take the 
compliments of our commander to the General com- 
manding the Marine Corps, and to ask for the loan 


of his celebrated band. Whether the General was 
stunned by our impudence or flattered by the Doctor's 
blandishments, may never be known, but the request 
was complied with, and our march through the 
crowded city was made dazzling by the great band, 
with their plumed caps, scarlet coats, white trowsers, 
and gorgeous equipments. 

Every point of military etiquette was observed in 
the ceremonial ; the command was in the best of 
condition, and we heard with great satisfaction the 
favorable comments from the crowds that thronged 
our wa}'. " It takes the regulars,"' "volunteers never 
could do that," etc. And no doubt as we marched 
back to our camp of spacious tents, with the full 
assurance of ample rations prepared by company 
cooks awaiting our arrival, our breasts swelled with 
undue pride, for we saw in the future no premonitions 
of the tattered and hungry crew, who bearing our 
name and number, were to assist in puddling down 
the sacred soil of Virginia. 

Within the limits of our camp was a small and old 
cottage house, which being entirely unoccupied, we 
took for our hospital use. Although nearly worth- 
less for any purpose, the owner was hunted up and 
the endeavor was made to come to a settlement with 
him and pay rent during its occupanc}'', but the pro- 
prietor declined even to name a price, giving as his 
reason that he could get more by making a claim for 
it before the department, after we were gone. 

At this hospital we tirst lost a man from our ranks 
by death. Hiram Varney of Gloucester, a plucky 


fellow, although too ill to have left the Fort, pre- 
vailed upon the post surgeon to allow him to go with 
the Regiment, but worn with the excitement and 
fatigue of the march, he fell into typhus fever and 
died. He was a soldier to the last. So long as he 
could raise his hand, he endeavored to salute his 
officers who came to the cotside, and when told of 
approaching death, he regretted that it had not been 
his fate to meet it in battle. 

There were other incidents not so lugubrious. The 
waters of the Branch washed the foot of the bluti' on 
which our camp was pitched, and when the days 
grew exceeding hot, Surgeon Adams advised that 
bathing should be prohibited through the heat of 
the day. Accordingly an order was published, 
appointing the hours for morning and evening bath- 
ing, and forbidding it at other times. 

At noon one blistering hot day, two men being 
overtempted by the cool waters, were in the act of 
enjoying a stolen bath, when the sergeant with a file 
of the guard appeared and ordered the bathers to the 
shore. Upon coming to land, they found to their 
disgust that their clothing had preceded them to the 
guard tent. Attended by the sergeant and his men, 
the culprits were marched in pun's up the bluft' and 
through the whole length of the parade ground, run- 
ning the gauntlet of the jokes and gibes of their com- 
rades, who turned out in force to enjoy the exhibi- 

For a day or two after our arrival the cows of our 
secession neighbors were verv troublesome. Turned 


out by their owners after milking in the morning, a 
herd of some twenty-tive or thirty head fed through 
the da\- ah)ng the waste grounds of that part of 
Washington City, and returned at evening to their 
cribs. Both going and coming they habitually 
passed through our lines, and about among the tents, 
causing some trouble to the police guard, and much 
annoyance to the men. Sentinels could not leave 
their posts to chase cows, and no provision was to 
be found in the tactics or regulations applicable to 
this case. A provision was therefore invented. At 
noon a notice was posted at the guard tent, stating 
that thereafter it might be presumed that any cows 
found within the limits of the camp were sent thither 
by their owners, in order that the men should supply 
themselves with fresh milk. 

When the herd returned that evening there was 
exhibited a scene which defies description. Upon 
each cow there attended upon the average about five 
men, who with soothing words and quieting gestures, 
sought an opportunity to drain the happy beeves ! 
A view of the camp was one of a confusing medley 
of cows, and of men with tin cups, slowly and quietly 
but almost continually waltzing about in every 
direction. All their exertions must have resulted 
in a considerable success, for the herd troubled us 
no more. 

The guard served with loaded rifles, and when 
relieved were marched to a convenient spot by the 
waterside, where they emptied their guns one by 
one, firing at a target ; and to encourage careful prac- 


tice, he who made the best shot was allowed a fur- 
lough for the rest of the day. It was of course a 
matter of interest to the officers to watch the practice 
and the improvement of the men. On one occasion 
after the guard practice was ended, the Colonel 
desiring to test the new pieces, took a rifle from the 
sergeant, and by some accident his bullet hit the 
bull's eye of the target. He was complimented and 
perhaps a little surprised by the unanimous shout 
from the old guard, "give him a furlough."' 

The East Branch here must have been not far from 
a quarter of a mile wide. Our shore, as has been 
stated, was a high bluff', but the opposite bank was 
a low interval, cultivated as a market garden, and 
near the river stood the unpretentious cottage of the 
cultivator. As the colonel sat one day at his tent 
door, in such position that the edge of the bluff" 
showed in sharp relief against the blue waters of the 
branch, there appeared coming up over the cliff', 
escorted by a corporal, a semblance of Neptune aris- 
ing from the Sea. It was after all only the garden 
farmer from over the river. He had crossed in his 
punt, and his resemblance to Neptune was owing in 
part to his sailor-like form and hat, but more to the 
precaution he had taken to bring his paddle along 
with him. 

His errand at headquarters was to complain that 
the rifle balls at the time of target practice had 
a disagreeable way of glancing over the water 
and whistling about his premises, and he asked 
meekly if this could not be avoided, as it "made the 


women-folks nervous." Of course his wish was 
granted, and thereafter the guard discharged their 
rifles at a target in the bank on our side of the water. 
This compliance with his request resulted in a 
second appearance of our Neptune, who at this time 
brought two boxes of choice strawberries as a pres- 
ent to the commanding officer, and an expression of 
his thanks, to which he added the statement that 
there never had been such a regiment encamped 
near him, — "they were all gentlemen." We won- 
dered what kind of troops had preceded us, that we 
rose so high in his good graces merely because we 
refrained from shooting at his women-folks, — but the 
berries were thankfully accepted and warml}^ appre- 
ciated in the mess. 

It was about this time that this delicious berry 
became so plentiful that three hundred quarts were 
issued as a special ration to the men. 

June 24, 1862. Orders were received to move 
over to Alexandria, where a new brigade comprising 
the 3 2d was to be organized ; the order stated that the 
Regiment would be met at Alexandria by a staff' 
officer who would conduct us to our camping ground. 

Alexandria being a township about ten miles in 
length, the order was rather indetinite, but we 
marched to the town where we found no brigadier, 
no brigade, and no staff officer, and thereupon we 
proceeded to make an excursion through the town- 
ship in search of one of them. We soon found an 
aide-de-camp who conducted us to the locality in- 
tended, and pointed out the ground assigned to us, 
which was half a mile from anv water. 


This, our tirst real march, is worthy of notice, as 
being ahnost the only one which was made without 
loss by straggling, and the only one made in accord- 
ance with army regulations. 

Six months afterward, when the allowance of 
wagons was only three to each regiment, we 
laughed as we remembered the twenty-three wagons 
which were required for this first movement of 
ours. Our route covered sixteen miles, when, if 
the order had been decently explicit, only eight 
miles would have been required, but we soon learned 
that it was one of the customs of the service to make 
the orders as blind as possible. 

Before nightfall our camp was made and our 
guards posted. No military authority had ever 
notified us of a countersign, we therefore as usual 
made our own, and consequently before morning 
bagged a half dozen of the officers from the 
neighboring forts, who were ignorant of it. 

A Rhode Island Regiment. (Colonel Bliss',) and 
one from Pennsylvania arrived the next day, and for 
several days we were in constant expectation of a 
brigadier, but before he turned up, June 29th, an 
order came for the 3 2d to be mustered early on the 
30th by its commanding officer, and thereafter to pro- 
ceed forthwith to Alexandria, where transportation 
would be in readiness to take the command to Fort 
Monroe. At 11 A. M., we were in the street at 
Alexandria with all our baggage train, but the Gen- 
eral commanding there was drunk, the Post Qiiarter- 
master insolent, and nobody had ever heard any- 


thing about us or our transportation. After waiting 
until 4 P. M., receiving no orders nor even replies 
from Washington to our telegrams, we concluded to 
operate on our own hook, and when the Steamer 
Hero came to a landing near by, we took possession 
of her as a "military necessity," coaled her and 
started for our destination. 

We found the aforesaid " military necessity " to be 
a poor shattered concern, already deeply laden 
with ammunition. The captain and crew were not 
in an amiable frame of mind at being so unceremo- 
niously gobbled up. They refused to allow the men 
to make coffee at the boiler fires, and when ordered 
to do so, the engineers and firemen left their posts in 
high dudgeon ; but when they found that we had a 
plenty of men competent to run the boat, and that it 
was their rations, not ours, that were stopped, they 
very submissively returned to their duty. 

We arrived at Fort Monroe early on the 2d of 
July, and reported to General Dix, commanding that 
post. Here we heard of the seven days fighting 
across the Peninsula, and found the air full of 
exciting and contradictory rumors as to the incidents 
and result of the battles. Even General Dix had 
no precise information as to the whereabouts of Gen- 
eral McClellan, but he knew that he wanted more 
men and wanted them quick, and we were directed 
without disembarking to proceed up the river until 
we found the army. Facilities were provided for 
cooking the neccesary rations, and early in the after- 
noon, after receiving repeated injunctions to take 


every precaution against falling into the hands of 
the enemy, we weighed anchor and steamed away 
up the James. Our heavily-laden boat could not 
make the distance by daylight, and we passed the 
night at anchor in the river, with steam up and a 
large guard on duty, and with the early dawn were 
again underweigh, in search of the army. 

To this time the Regiment had practically lived by 
itself; it had known nothing of generals, and not 
much of army men, but the time had come when it 
was to be absorbed into the army as a drop into the 



TT was yet early morning when we steamed over 
•■■ Harrison Bar, and saw evidences of the vicinity 
of the Army of the Potomac. We had previously 
met quite a number of steamboats bound down the 
river, apparently heavily loaded with passengers ; 
and now, as the river widened out into a lake or bay, 
we came upon a large fleet of various kinds ot crafts, 
freighted with ordnance, quartermaster's and com- 
missary stores, some at anchor in the river, and some 
hauled up to the left bank unloading their freight. 
The river banks were too high to enable us to see 
beyond, but all along them were men sitting or lying 
on the slopes, or bathing in the water. There were 
teams of mules driven down to drink, and wagoners 
using heavy whips and great oaths to persuade their 
beasts to draw the loaded wains up the rough tracks, 
cut diagonally into the faces of the bank. 

As our steamer entered upon this stirring scene 
the musicians were ordered to the bows of the boat, 
and we moved on with our drums beating cheerily. 
We passed one long wharf, reaching out into the 
river, and thereabout saw a few tents and great piles 



of Stores on the shore ; then pushing our reconois- 
sance up the river, saw the army signs gradually 
disappear from the banks, until at length opening a 
reach of the river we could see the gunboats, the 
slow booming of whose guns had been heard long 
before ; and here a guard-boat hailed to warn us to 
go no farther. 

Satisfied that the wharf, which we had passed, 
was the proper place for our landing, we turned and 
steamed slowly in that direction. Presently a boat 
put off from the bank with an officer who signalled 
lor the steamer to stop, came alongside, and deli- 
vered to our Colonel a torn fragment of a second- 
hand and soiled envelope, on which, in pencil, was 
scrawled the following order, our first from the 
headquarters of the Army of the Potomac : — 

" To commanding officer of troops on steamer. 
Land your men at once and move direct 2ip the road., 
and report to me at my headquarters., zvhere you will 
he stopped. Come up zvith arms and ammunition 
(^/f.o or 60 cartridges each man). 

" This order is from General McClellan. 

"F. J. PORTER. Brig. Gen:' 

In obedience to the order we hauled up to the 
wharf, and the men being already supplied with 
ammunition, but little time was lost in forming upon 
the pier. Leaving there a few men to unload and 
guard the baggage, we moved up to the shore. 

It is General Trochu who writes, that upon ap- 
proaching an army from the rear in time of battle, 


one always sees the same sights, conveying to one's 
mind the idea of a disorderly mob, and the fear of a 
great disaster. Our approach to the Army of the 
Potomac was from the rear in time of battle, and 
our experience confirms Trochu. 

At the head of the wharf a mass of men were 
striving to pass the guard, hoping to get away 
on the steamer which had brought us. Passing 
them, we looked for the road up which we were 
ordered to move " direct." In every direction, and 
as far as we could see, the soil which twenty-four 
hours before had been covered with promising crops 
of almost ripened grain, was trodden into a deep 
clay mud, — so deep and so adhesive as, in several 
cases, to pull the boots and stockings from the 
soldiers' feet, and so universal as to have obliterated 
every sign of the original road. Everywhere were 
swarms of men in uniform, tattered and spattered 
with mud, but with no perceptible organization, wad- 
ing through the pasty ground. On and near the 
river bank were open boxes, barrels, casks, and bags 
of provision and forage, from which each man sup- 
plied himself without the forms of requisition, issue, or 
receipt. Everywhere too were mule-wagon teams 
struiTijlinfj in the mire, and the air resounded with 
the oaths of the drivers, the creaking of the wagons, 
the voices of men shouting to each other, the bray 
of hunijrv mules, and the noise of buiifle and drum 
calls, with an accompaniment of artillery tiring on 
land and water. 

To all these were added, when we appeared, 
shouts, not of hearty welcome and encouragement. 


such as we might naturally have expected from an 
overtasked army to its first reinforcement, but in 
derision of our clean dress and exact movements — 
warnings of terrible things awaiting us close at 
hand — questions as to how our patriotism was now — 
not one generous cheer. 

Officers and men alike joined in this unseemly 
behavior, and even now when we know, as we did 
not then, the story of the terrible days of battle 
through which they had passed, and the sufierings 
that they had patiently endured, we cannot quite 
forgive their unmannerly reception of a recruiting 

Through all this we succeeded in finding General 
Porter's headquarters, and by his direction were 
guided to a position a mile or more distant, and 
placed in line of battle with other troops in face of a 
thick wood, and then learned that we were assigned 
to the brigade of General Charles Griffin, division of 
General Morell, in Fitz John Porter's, afterward 
known as the Fifth army corps. 

As soon as we were fairly in position our Colonel 
sought for the brigadier. The result was not exactly 
what his fancy may have painted. On a small heap 
of tolerably clean straw he found three or four 
officers stretched at full length, not very clean in 
appearance and evidently well nigh exhausted in 
condition. One of them, rather more piratical look- 
ing than the others, owned that he was General 
Griftin, and endeavored to exhibit some interest in 
the addition to his command, but it was very reluc- 


tantly that he acceeded to the request that he would 
show himself to the Regiment, in order that they 
might be able to recognize their brigade commander. 

After a time however, the General mounted and 
rode to the head of our column of divisions. The 
Colonel ordered "attention" and the proper salute, 
and said : "Men, I want you to know and remember 
General Griffin, our Brigadier General." Griffin's 
address was perhaps the most elaborate he had ever 
made in public. "We've had a tough time men, 
and it is not over yet, but we have whaled them every 
time and can whale them aijain." 

Our men, too well disciplined to cheer in the 
ranks, received the introduction and the speech, so 
far as was observed, in soldierly silence, but months 
afterward the General told that he heard a response 
from one man in the ranks who said, "Good God I is 
that fellow a general."' We all came to know him 
pretty well in time, and to like him too, and some of 
us to mourn deeply when he died of the fever in 
Texas, after the surrender. 

The officers of our Field and Staff found in the 
edge of the wood just in front of the Regiment, a 
spot somewhat drier than the average, and occu- 
pied it, but not without opposition. A long and 
very muddy corporal was gently slumbering there, 
and on waking, recognized his disturbers by their 
clean apparel as new comers, and thought they 
might be raw. Pointing to an unexploded shell 
which lay near him on the ground, he calmly 
advised the officers not to stop there, as "a good 


many of them things had been dropping in all the 
morning." His strategy proved unsuccessful, for 
he was ranked out of his coitifortable quarters and 
told to join his regiment. 

After all, the day passed without an engagement, 
and the sound of guns gradually died away, until 
near evening, when the Brigade was moved about 
two miles away and bivouacked in a wood of holly 
trees, the men making beds of green corn-stalks, 
and going to them singing and laughing. 

After the excitement of the day all slept soundly, 
but before midnight the Colonel was aroused by an 
orderly to receive a circular order which stated that 
owing to certain movements of the enemy, com- 
manding officers were to hold their commands on 
the alert. Not knowing what commanding officers 
were expected to do when they "held their commands 
on the alert," the Colonel accompanied the General's 
orderly to the headquarters of the 9th Massachusetts 
near b}^ and waited while its commander was 
aroused, and until he had perused the same order. 
Observing that after reading it the veteran quietly 
turned over and settled himself for a fresh nap, our 
Colonel returned to his repose, merely taking the 
precaution to have the horses saddled and bridled, 
by which bit of innocent faith in orders for alert, he 
lost the use of his saddle which had made an excel- 
lent pillow. The next da}^ we received our baggage 
and moved out of the wood, pitching our camp in 
regulation shape. 

I fear that the display of a full allowance of round 
Fremont tents may have caused some heart burnings 


among our neighbors, who had nothing but shelter 
tents. It is certain that they were still inclined to 
scoff' at our peculiarities, and already the demoraliz- 
ing effect of the prevalent negligence was felt in our 
ranks, for one of our captains, always before rather 
distinguished for the nicet}^ of his dress, soon 
appeared splashed with mud from head to foot, and 
when asked why he did not remove it, he pleaded 
that it was the uniform of the Army of the Potomac. 

Whoever, without a vast preponderance of forces, 
makes war to capture Richmond, must have the 
James River for his base of supply and must be able 
to control Harrison Landing. 

When the campaign of the Army of the Potomac 
began, the iron-clad Merrimac barred access to the 
James, and the Army, which by way of that River 
might, without delay or loss, have flanked Magruder 
back to Malvern Hill, landed at Harrison's and 
operated on Richmond over a healthy and dr}- 
countr}', comparatively free from natural obstacles, 
— was compelled to resort to the narrow and tortu- 
ous Pamunkey, and to flounder among swamps and 
river crossings, always exposed to fight at disadvan- 
tage, and always weakened physically and mentally 
by the malaria of the marshes. 

When, by the destruction of the Merrimac, the 
James was made available, the mind of General 
McClellan reverted to his original preference. For a 
long time he waited and stretched out his right wing 
to facilitate junction with McDowell, but when the 



last hope of that aid had disappeared, he hastened to 
abandon the Pamunkey for the broader and safer 
James. The movement was actually in progress 
when Johnston attacked what was already the rear 
of McClellan's column. During each day of that 
battle-week, the trains moved and the army fought, 
and every night the army abandoned the scene of a 
successful defence to close in upon the banks of 
the river, where alone they could hope for the sup- 
plies which they needed and the repose they had 

The day before we joined, these rough and grimy 
troops had fought at Malvern perhaps the hardest of 
their lights, and had won the most complete of all 
their victories. And now they were again in com- 
munication with the North — in posession of the very 
key to Richmond — holding Lee as it were by a cord 
from any movement North, and needing only the 
assistance of a tithe of the new levies to drive or 
flank him further south. But it pleased God that 
this should not be until years had passed away. 

If there be on the face of the earth a place 
intended for breeding pestilence, the country about 
Harrison's and Westover was ordained to that use. 
One of our officers who had travelled the wide 
world all over, declared that the climate resembled 
no place except Sierra Leone on the x\frican coast. 
Its reputation as an unwholesome spot is established 
even among the natives of Virginia, and whoever 
desires any additional testimony, need only to apply 
to one who has sweltered there through July and 


To the natural disadvantages of the locality, were 
now added those many sources of sickness which 
always accompany an army. The effect of the cli- 
mate was not only debilitating to the body, but was 
enervating to the will, and negligence of proper pre- 
cautions against camp diseases was added to all 
other predisposing causes in reducing the strength of 
the army. 

The 3 2d, almost fresh from the sea air of New 
England, suffered undoubtedly more than those reg- 
iments which had been in some degree acclimated. 
Almost every officer and man was affected. For 
weeks over one-third of the command was on the 
sick list, and not less than a hundred and tifty men 
who then left the Regiment for hospital or on sick 
leave, never returned to our colors. 

Such a mixture of moisture and drouth, of mud 
and dust, cannot be conceived. The air was filled 
at times with an impalpable dust which was actually 
a visible malaria. The marsh near our camp was 
beautiful to see, white with its vast numbers of 
plants like lilies which threw up great spikes of 
flowers, but the excess of perfume was so sickening 
as but little to be preferred to the odor of carrion, 
which came to us when the wind changed to the 

Men sickened and died in a da}', and the whole 
Regiment lost its brisk military ways and degener- 
ated very nearly to the shiftless, listless level of the 
rest of the army. Drills could not be kept up, 
parades were discontinued, and the attention of the 


officers was concentrated upon the preservation of 
cleanliness in the camp, the improvement of the 
food, and the necessary duties. Here occurred the 
first death among our officers, for Lieutenant Na- 
thaniel French, jr., died August 9th of the malarial 

Large details v^^ere made from the Regiment for 
guards, our reputation for that duty having become 
unpleasantly good. Eighty men and three officers 
were at one time serving as guards over the quarter- 
master's stores, on the river bank. It was while 
they were there, that enterprising John Reb. brought 
some field pieces down to Coggins' Point, just 
opposite to us on the James, and opened fire about 
midnight, first upon the shipping in the river, and 
afterward upon our camps. 

Two of the officers of our detached party, after the 
freshness of the alarm had passed, were sitting in 
their shelter tent with their feet to the foe, watching 
as they would any pyrotechnic displa}', the flash of 
the guns, and the curves described by the burning 
fuses, when one of the guns was turned and 
discharged, as it seemed, directly at our friends, 
who, dodging at the same moment, struck their 
heads together and fell, each under the impression 
that the enemy's shell had struck him. 

It was on this occasion that Colonel Sawtelle, 
the officer in charge of the transportation — our 
quartermaster said he was the only regular officer 
within his experience who could do his duty and 
be civil too — emerged from his tent at the sound 


of firing and stood upon the bank gazing silently 
and sorrowfully upon his defenceless fleet, among 
which the shells were exploding merrily. Soon his 
silence broke into a shout to his superior, "Look 
here Ingalls, if this thing isn't stopped pretty quick, 
the A. P. is a busted concern." 

In the regimental camp a half mile away, the 
shelling did no serious damage, but produced some 
commotion. One of the officers complained that 
every time that he got comfortably settled for sleep, 
a shell would knock the pillow out from under his 
head ; in emulation of which story, a sailor in D 
Company declared that he slept through the whole 
affair, but in the morning counted twenty-three solid 
shot piled up against his back, that hit but had not 
waked him. 

Nearly two months had elapsed since we left 
Massachusetts with the promise that the four Com- 
panies require to complete our Regiment should be 
speedily recruited and forwarded, but we heard 
nothing of them. The home newspapers told of the 
33d Regiment as being full, and of the 34th and 
35th as in process of formation, but the 32d seemed 
to have been forgotten. The Lieutenant Colonel 
addressed a letter to the Governor upon the subject, 
and forwarded a copy of his letter to the head- 
quarters of the Army of the Potomac. Within 
twenty^-four hours an order was published in which, 
among others, was the name of our commanding 
officer as detailed on recruiting service. Upon 
application to Adjutant General Williams for an 


explanation of the detail, he learned that the order 
meant that he was to go for those four companies, 
and leaving Captain Stephenson, who for a long 
time had been Acting Major, in command, the 
Colonel went to Massachusetts on recruiting duty, 
from which duty, to the best of his knowledge, he 
has to this day never been relieved. 

He was barely gone before Company G reported, 
commanded by Captain Charles Bowers — Charles 
O. Shepard being First Lieutenant, and Edward T. 
Bouve, Second Lieutenant. When we got far 
enough away from the depressing effect of that 
infamous climate, and attained sufficient animation 
to joke, we used to call this Company our second 

There may occur no better place than this for a 
brief dissertation concerning the high and deep 
mysteries which hung about quartermastering. 

When we were at the Fort, the officers — who, by 
regulation, were allowed a certain number of candles 
per month — expressed a very unanimous preference 
for kerosene lamps, which had then recently come 
in vogue. Lamps, wicks, and oil were benignantly 
supplied by the quartermaster at the Post, but at 
the end of a month that officer presented for 
approval and signature, requisitions and receipts for 
many candles. We dreamed of a nice job at court- 
martial on the Q^ M., but soon learned that by a 
fiction of the department, no light was recognized 
other than that of candles, and receipts given for 
candles covered lamps, wicks, chimneys, and oil. 


Whether the Quartermasters' Department has yet 
discovered the use of petroleum, who can tell? 
Our Quartermaster Pearson never joined the Regi- 
ment after it left Massachusetts, but was detailed 
principally in charge of matters at the recruiting 
post and camp at Readville. Lieutenant Hoyt of B 
Company was detailed and served for several years 
as acting quartermaster. When he was detailed 
the term of his detail was of course problematical, 
and there was too much uncertaint}', as he thought, 
to justify the investment required for the purchase of 
a horse ; but he must ride. With that straightfor- 
wardness which comes from innocence and igno- 
rance alike, a requisition was made upon the proper 
officer for a saddle and horse for the use of the 

If we had stolen the military chest of the. army no 
greater outcry could have been made; the applica- 
tion was rejected with contumely. For the next day 
or two Qjiartermaster Hoyt appeared to. be absorbed 
in the study of the rules and regulations, articles of 
war, and circulars of his department. From this 
course of reading he emerged with unclouded brow 
and a new requisition. This time it was for an 
ambulance, a horse, and a harness, to which every 
battalion was entitled, and the articles required were 
promptly delivered. Two days later he returned 
the ambulance and harness as not wanted, and kept 
the horse, which was always ridden by the quarter- 
master ; but was always known as the ambulance 


It is a little in advance of our main story, but it 
may as well be told here how Hoyt flanked the 
Division Qjiartermaster. When the regimental prop- 
erty was unloaded from the transport at Acquia 
Creek, and only the afternoon before we marched, 
it was found that one of our wagons was sick in a 
hind wheel, and as it was almost sure to break down 
if the wagon was loaded, our quartermaster endeav- 
ored to turn it in to the Division Quartermaster, 
and to obtain a sound wagon in it 's place. 
There were plenty of new wagons in the Division 
depot, but the officer was ugly and refused the 
exchange ; when it was persistently urged, the 
superior grew wroth and vowed vows, and told our 
quartermaster that he would n't get any wagon out 
of him, and that he might help himself if he could. 

Hoyt did help himself that night by taking, under 
cover of the darkness, a sound wheel from a wagon 
in the Division train, and putting our rotten one in 
its place. There was a great row after we started 
next morning about the breaking down of a wagon, 
but our train was all right. 

Not many days after our arrival at Harrison's 
Landing, Jul}^ 8th, President Lincoln visited and 
reviewed the arm3^ Having faith — in some respects 
resembling a mustard seed — we believe that he 
reviewed the 32d. What we know is, that after 
waiting in position with the whole of our division, 
from four o'clock in the afternoon until nine o'clock 
in the evening, during the last three hours of which 
time we mourned our delayed suppers, and pos- 


sibly spoke evil of dignities, we saw in the uncer- 
tain moonlight a party of horsemen ride along our 
front, one of whom sat his horse like Andrew Jack- 
son, and wore a stove-pipe hat, and then we were 
allowed to go to our camp and our rations. 

Where there are no newspapers, rumors are 
always plenty, and the army abounded in rumors. 
One day it was reported that our corps was to cross 
the river and march on Petersburg ; another day we 
were told the army was about to move on Richmond, 
and that we were to assault Fort Darling. General 
Hooker made a reconoissance in the direction of 
Malvern, and it was immediately reported that he 
had penetrated the defences of Richmond. 

For two weeks orders were received almost daily 
with regard to the removal of the sick, and the dis- 
posal of camp equipage and all extra baggage, and 
rumors grew more and more wild and contradictory. 
After the fearful ordeal of the malarial sickness, it is 
not surprising that the intimation that the army was 
about to enter upon a new campaign was hailed 
with something akin to delight, even by those who 
realized the dangers of battle, and the toil of more 
active service. At last the orders came for the 
movement, and it was not upon Petersburg, or Fort 
Darling, or Richmond, but toward Fort Monroe. 

The orders found us read}' and exceedingly will- 
ing to leave a spot crowded with sad and bitter 
experience, such as we can not even now recall with- 
out a thrill almost of horror. 

The marches of the 32d Regiment might claim 
quite as much place, if not more, in its history. 


than the battles in which it took part, but they 
would hardly be as attractive to the reader. At 
all events the incidents of a march, exciting or not, 
stand a much better chance of accurate narration 
than those of a battle where haste may obscure the 
memory, and passion confuse the description. 

In military campaigns as in civil life, patience and 
endurance will win as against courage and clan. 
The first are the qualities of highest value in marches, 
the second are those conspicuous in battle. And it 
may be safely said, that the qualities in soldiers 
w^hich make good marching, are rarer than those 
which make good lighting. At least the troops 
which the General will prize the most are those which 
march the best: i. c, those in whom either espi'tt- 
du-cor^s or discipline is strong enough to prevent 
straggling on toilsome marches. Those who marched 
in good form, and came into bivouac at night with 
full ranks were sure to be ready and available at the 
moment of battle, whether they fought well or not; 
and per contra, it was frequently observed that those 
regiments that straggled most upon the march, were 
conspicuous among the great army of "bummers" 
at the rear in the time of battle, and, if engaged 
with the enemy, were the lirst to break into rout and 

Now as the 32d Massachusetts was on many occa- 
sions rather conspicuous for good solid marching, 
that fact should not be forgotten in its history. 

On the morning of a march the question usually 
was, "Who has the advance to-day?" In a succes- 


sion of days' marching, the regiments took turns in 
leading, according to an established rule. Break- 
fast over, the bugle sounded, tirst at Division-head- 
quarters, then at brigade, and last at each regi- 
ment, everybody fell into his place, and the bugle 
sounded again "forward." After many halts and 
hitches, unless we happened to be at the head of the 
column, we finally swung into the regular marching 
gait. This was not fast, rarely exceeding three 
miles an hour and oftener two miles or thereabouts, 
including halts. 

The manner and method of the march, — with its 
object there was seldom any disposition to meddle, 
— were often severely criticised both by men and 
officers. For instance, a day's march of which the 
objective point might be quite distant, say 25 or 30 
miles, would be begun before daylight, and then 
conducted in great part as though there was no fixed 
intention of going any where at all. This would 
be a ground for grumbling. Marching out of a 
comfortable camp at midnight, moving only a little 
w^ay, and then halting and lying round without orders 
for hours, then moving again at day-break at a 
snail's pace, without having broken our fast, and 
keeping on in this way until near noon, with no 
orders for halt and breakfast ; and thus on through 
a whole livelong day of heat or dust, or it might be 
of snow or rains or chilling winds, until late in the 
afternoon ; horses not fed or unsaddled, men with 
blankets and equipments on, flinging themselves on 
the ground at every wait as if in disgust. Here 


was more ground for grumbling. At length late in 
the afternoon, when patience and strength were all 
but exhausted, we would strike into a pace of three 
miles or more an hour, which would be kept up 
hour after hour without a moment's rest. Then 
would begin the straggling, men would throw away 
their overcoats and blankets as too burdensome to 
carry, although the loss might be bitterly regretted 
at the next bivouac, and would make their fires, 
rest and cook their coffee, under the very guns of 
the enemy, in defiance of danger of death or cap- 
ture, and in spite of command or threats of court- 
martial. The regimental column would be reduced 
to the size of a company, and the men would be found 
strewed along the roadside, sick or used up, many 
not rejoining their companies until the bugles 
sounded "forward" on the following day. This style 
of marching was frequent in the earlier campaigns 
of the Army of the Potomac, but was afterwards 
much amended and improved upon. An excellent 
rule adopted at a later period was to march the col- 
umn steadily for one hour, and then call a halt on 
the bugle for ten or fiften minutes. But the impor- 
tant point of so ordering a march that the column 
should move rapidly during the cool hours of the 
morning and evening, halting for an hour or two at 
noon, was seldom reached. It is presumable that in 
many, perhaps in most cases, marches were made 
loitering and toilsome, (as above described,) by 
unavoidable and obvious causes. The insufficiency 
of the roads, there being but one, or their bad 


condition, crowding the way with cattle sometimes 
driven in the line of march ; troops going to the rear 
with prisoners, or passing to the front ; skirmishing 
with the enemy ; difficult fords, or broken bridjjes, 
or the laying of pontoons ; all these, or any of them, 
might cause delay. Or orders might require the 
troops to be hurried forward, and the march, too has- 
tily begun, would be impeded by crowding or by the 
necessity of cavalry, artillery, or ammunition being 
sent forward. 

To sketch a march is an exceedingly difficult thing 
because there is presented to the observer such a 
multitude of features, none of which can be slighted 
or left out ; and these features are so varied, and pre- 
sent themselves in such endless succession and con- 
stantly changing interest, that the mind becomes 

On the occasion of our first march with the Army 
of the Potomac, the men, in the worst possible con- 
dition to support fatigue, weakened by sickness, 
softened by six weeks of inaction, and enervated by 
a debilitating climate, were marched out of camp at 
about midnight, then halted and kept in expectation 
of immediate departure for seven hours, then when 
the mid-summer sun had attained nearly its full heat, 
were put upon the route, and with no formal halt, 
but with much hesitation and frequent delay, were 
kept in the column fourteen weary hours. 

At eleven o'clock at night, on the 15th, the Captain 
commanding reached the end of the day's march 
on the left bank of the Chickahominy, and encamped 


with less than thirty men, who alone had been able 
to keep up with the column. All night long the 
men came toiling in, and by the next daylight nearly 
all had again joined the command. 

From this by easier marches, passing Williams- 
burg, Yorktown, and Big Bethel, we arrived August 
19th at Newport News. Each day's march show^ed 
better results — officers and men gaining in health and 
strength as they increased their distance from West- 
over, and when the first breeze came to them over 
the salt water, the refreshing sensation was quaintly 
declared to be like breathing ice cream. 

An amusing incident is recalled of our start from 
Yorktown. We broke camp at 7 A. M., i8th 
August. The headquarters officers' mess of our 
Regiment had been fortunate enough to confiscate a 
" muell " on the previous day ; his temper proved to 
be not child-like nor yet bland. Upon this creature's 
back was loaded the kit, consisting of pots, pans, 
kettles, plates, etc., etc., with w-hatever bread, 
sugar, and other rations were in stock. The whole 
affair was in charge of a darkey. The kit was 
packed in two large sacks, to be hung across the 
mule's back, like panniers, and on top of these were 
piled a few bulky articles, camp-chairs, and such 
like nick-nacks. When fully loaded little was to be 
seen of "the insect," except his ears and his legs. 
The darkey being discouraged in the legs had made 
up his mind, as soon as it could be done without 
being seen bv the officers, to mount upon the top of 
this pyramid of pots and pans, and to have a ride. 


The mule, however, had other views. As the column 
filed off down the hill, rough with stumps, and 
ending in a morass, we looked back and saw Mr. 
Mule arguing and expostulating, mule-fashion, 
with Mr. Cuffy. At length, however, he apparently 
yielded to the superior forensic skill of the latter, and 
allowed himself to be mounted. Yet, as the sequel 
showed, there was a mental reservation. After 
wheeling round and round several times, as if to 
look the ground over thoroughly and examine this 
new question on all sides, the mule laid back his 
long ears, stretched his neck, and bolted straight 
down the hill. He stopped suddenly at the edge of 
the swamp, planted his fore-feet, raised his hind- 
quarters, and sent the other contraband-of-war some 
distance into the swamp, while the kettles, and coffee, 
etc., of the headquarters mess strewed the ground 
in all directions. Thereafter it was remarked that 
that darkey invariably led that mule; also, that 
several little utensils, such as cups and saucers, 
were missing from the table of the mess. 


A T Newport News the Regiment immediately em- 
•^ ^ barked on the transport steamer Belvide^'c for 
Acquia Creek, thence by raih'oad it was forwarded 
to Stafford Court House, near Fredericksburg, and 
on the 2 2d of August encamped in a pleasant grove 
not far from Barnett's Ford, on the upper Rappahan- 
nock, in which agreeable and comparatively salubri- 
ous locality we enjoyed a welcome rest of several 
days, but we were very hungr}'. Our position was 
at too great distance to receive regular supplies from 
Burnside at Acquia, and General Pope did not con- 
sider bases of supplies of any importance. 

On Saturday, the 23d, distant firing was heard in 
the direction of the upper fords of the Rappahan- 
nock. On Tuesday, the 26th, one wagon came up 
for each regiment, and early on the 27th we moved 
along the river, past roads leading to Kemper's and 
Kelly's Fords, as far as Bealton, on the Orange and 
Alexandria Railroad, then up the railroad track 
towards Manassas. The sound of artillerv was 


often audible in advance. 

This march was made through a country parched 
by the heat of a Southern mid-summer, the troops 


always enveloped in clouds of dust, the few wells 
and watering-places constantly in possession of a 
struggling crowd which barred out the weak who 
needed water most, and it cannot be a matter for 
surprise, but indeed it was a matter for grief, that 
hundreds of the soldiers fell exhausted by the way- 
side, to die in the fields, or in prison to suffer what 
was worse than death. 

That evening we bivouacked near Warrenton 
Junction, in a large wood, the men as they came in 
throwing themselves upon the ground, hastening to 
get their needed sleep. The officers (who could 
not draw rations) felt the want of food even more 
than the men. The field and staff' mess could offer 
only some wretched cakes of corn bread. 

On the morning of the 28th, before many of us 
had fairly tasted sleep, we were aroused with orders 
to prepare for the march. The night was yet 
intensely dark and it was difficult to find the way out 
from the wood. The statT officers who, guided by 
our camp-fires, came to lead us out upon the road, 
a distance of three hundred yards — were obliged to 
acknowledge their inability to do so. At last a 
negro servant of the Surgeon, escorted by soldiers 
having lighted candles in the muzzles of their rifles, 
guided the Regiment and the brigade out of the 
wood to the roadway. Here we found the way 
blocked by a battery, and resort was had to torches, 
by whose light the men, in single file, picked their 
way through the obstructions. Then there was a 
long wait for Sykes' division, and after his files had 



flitted by like shadows in the darkness, there came 
a grey daylight through the fog, by which, with 
great trouble we were able to move slowly on our 
route, winding in and out among the wagons which 
also had been impeded by thick darkness. At 
length we moved pretty rapidly in the direction 
of Manassas, following the line of the railway. At 
Catlett's a train of cars was seen which had been 
fired and partially destroyed ; near by we passed a 
headquarters camp, said to have been General 
Pope's, which had evidently been raided by the 
enemy. At intervals we could hear the sound 
of fighting, at the north and northeast, sometimes 
pretty near, and we were hurried forward as rapidly 
as possible. At Kettle Run we saw evidences of the 
battle which Hooker had fought there with Ewell's 
corps, and saw many prisoners and wounded men. 
Here the fighting seemed to be northwest from us ; 
as we crossed Broad Run, about sundown, it was 
nearly due north. 

A day of hot sun and stifling dust was this 28th 
day of August ; on every side were evidences that 
there had been heavy fighting. The railroad track 
had been torn up and its bridges destroyed, clearly 
by the rebels. The trains of wagons, the batteries, 
the troops of all arms that we passed or that passed 
us this day, were wonderful for number. 

We encamped upon a large plain, a half mile 
beyond the Run, while the sound of artillery and 
musketry on our left was very distinctly heard. 

At dawn next morning, Frida^^ August 29th, we 
marched toward Manassas Junction. Rapid and 


fierce fighting on our left, in the direction of Bull 
Run. At the Junction, what had been a long train 
of luggage cars, loaded with army equipments, 
clothing, and supplies, was found a heap of smoul- 
dering ruins, and the track and bridges had been 
destroyed and were yet burning. Looking to the 
north the smoke of battle could be plainly discerned, 
marked by white pufis of bursting shells, and the 
sound of artillery was faintly heard ; a long line of 
dust extended from Thoroughfare Gap into and 
apparently beyond the field of battle. 

After a brief halt on the heights of Manassas, we 
countermarched and took the road to Gainesville, 
which here is nearly parallel to the Manassas Gap 
Railroad ; we passed McDowell's corps, lying along 
the roadside a mile or so from the Junction. They 
cheered and told us to "go in" and said that they 
had enough of it, etc. i\ll this time we had had no 
chance to eat or drink, and nobody seemed to 
understand our movements. The wildest rumors 
were afloat ; now that Pope was cut ofl' and captured 
— now that Jackson was surrounded, pressed by 
Siegel, and trying to escape by Aldie — now that 
there was a large force in our rear, and that we were 
cut oft' from Washington. Then, and this seemed 
true, that Lee or Longstreet was bringing up rein- 
forcements to Jackson by Thoroughfare Gap, and 
that Siegel, or McDowell, or Banks, or somebody 
unknown, was trying to prevent this movement. 

After passing McDowell's men we marched rap- 
idly, and when five and a half or six miles out from 


Manassas Junction, came to a bold elevation of 
cleared land, extending from the road to the rail- 
way, and on a line nearly parallel could see a long 
line of dust marking the line upon which the 
enemy was moving ; and when there were openings 
in the wood, which for the most part masked the 
moving column, we could with a good glass see 
their artillery, infantry, and trains. 

The cloud of dust which revealed the march of 
the enemy along our front was lost on the right, 
where it passed over a low wooded ridge, beyond 
which was seen the battle smoke. The guns could 
be heard only faintly by us in our high position, and 
must have been inaudible in the woods of the valley 

Upon this hill we were deployed, and guns were 
brought up and placed in position. Our brigade 
(Griffin's) started out on the right flank, moved over 
the railroad track and for some distance into the 
woods, with skirmishers thrown out in the front and 
on the flank, but finding no practicable wa}' through 
the woods returned and drew up on the hill. Two 
or three regiments were deployed to the front as 
skirmishers and sent down the hill and across the 
valley, as if to feel of the enemy, whose column 
continued to pour down from Thoroughfare, turning 
to the northeast at a point about two miles awa}' — 
at or near Gainesville. 

Generals Porter and McDowell, with other gen- 
erals and their staff", stood in a group ; the infantry 
was closed in mass and the batteries ready for 


action when, from a corn-tield in the flank of the 
marching column in the valley, there suddenly 
curled a wreath of smoke, and then another and 
another. A round shot buried itself in the face of 
the hill, throwing up a cloud of dust; then one 
after the other two shells burst close to the general 
officers, killing two men of our brigade. Our own 
batteries promptly replied and silenced the guns in 
front, but they opened again further to the right 
with such a rake upon our infantry as to make it 
prudent to withdraw them to the cover of the ground. 
Evidently our General intended an attack, and every- 
thing was ready ; but the remonstrances of Morell 
and Marshall prevailed upon Porter to countermand 
the order, and we finally bivouacked upon the hill. 
On the 30th, before day-break, we took the road 
with orders to proceed to Centreville. Our brigade 
was to cover the rear in this movement, and of 
course was preceded in the march by the supply 
train of the corps. Before breakfast we had crossed 
Bull Run at Blackburn's Ford. It seems that orders 
had been sent to change the destination of our corps, 
but the officer charged with their delivery having 
followed back the column until he reached the trains, 
gave orders to the quartermaster in charge of them 
to continue on to Centreville, and either did not 
know or entirely forgot that our Brigade was beyond 
the wagons ; whence it happened that while the rest 
of our corps was in battle on the Gainesville road, 
we were waiting at Centreville, wondering where 
they were, hearing the roar of battle as it drew 


nearer and nearer to our hillside, and constantly 
expecting orders. 

At about four o'clock we started for the field of 
battle. Almost immediately we came upon swarms 
of stragglers, who had left their ranks, and who 
were full of stories of regiments all cut up, as 
well as of their individual prowess. Then came 
crowds of wounded men, ambulances, wagons, empty 
caissons, until at last the road was fairly blocked 
with officers and men in ri'Q.oi'cier, hcirses, wagons, 
and batteries. Men were running, panting, curs- 
ing, and some worn out and exhausted had thrown 
themselves upon the ground by the roadside utterly 
indifferent to their fate ; and now we knew that this 
was the route of an exhausted army, and that our 
duty was to guard their rear. 

Forcing our way through all, just as we came to 
the well-ordered but retreating lines, night came on ; 
and although there were yet sounds of desultory 
firing, and occasional shot or shells plunging and 
exploding about us, the fight was over, and in the 
gloom of night we marched slowly back with the 
throng of troops to the heights of Centreville. 

Next morning, Sunday, August 31st, 1862, it was 
raining hard. The scene of confusion about us 
beggars description, and everybod}^ was hungry, 
wet, and dispirited. Before noon, however, order 
began to come out of chaos. Men found their col- 
ors, and regiments and brigades their appointed sta- 
tions, and our Brigade moved out upon the Gaines- 
ville Pike to receive the first onset of the enemy. 


Our position was on the right of the turnpike, and 
the line extended north and east toward Fairfax, 
with a strong picket two or three hundred yards in 
front, and here we passed the afternoon in quiet. 

All day Monday, September ist, trains of ambu- 
lances, under flags of truce, were going out to the 
field of battle and returning loaded with wounded men. 
The weather continued cold and rainy, with a north- 
east wind. Toward evening the sound of fighting 
was heard in the direction of Chantilly. The men 
were wet to the skin, rations exhausted, no fires 
allowed. Surgeons coming in from the battle-field 
reported the enemy in great force a very short dis- 
tance out on the turnpike, and on the old Warrenton 
Road, waiting the order to attack. The night was 
passed in misery ; the hazard of our position forbade 
sleep, and comfort was impossible. The army had 
moved from Centreville, in our rear, and at 3 A. M. 
we drew in our pickets and moved quietly away. 

Looking back as we left Centreville, we saw the 
enemy coming into the town in great numbers, but 
they made no attack. At Fairfax Court House we 
met large bodies of troops ; thence, taking a north- 
east course, we passed Vienna, and toward evening 
struck the Leesburg Turnpike. Beyond Levinsville 
we were met by General McClellan, who was enthu- 
siastically greeted by the troops, and at 11 P. M. 
we bivoucked at Langley's, after a march of twenty- 
eight miles. 

Wednesday, September 3d, we encamped on 
Miners Hill, near Falls Church, which was the 


locality of Porter's command previous to the Penin- 
sula campaign. 

Our active campaign with the army of Virginia 
comprised only ten days as almanacs count time, 
but these were days so full of excitement and of 
incident that memory recalls a whirl of occurences 
and events, succeeding so rapidly one to another 
that it is with difficulty one can separate them. 
There are pictures, but they are changing with the 
rapidity of those of the kaleidoscope. 

One scene constantly recurring, not only on this, 
but on many another march, presents to us again the 
array of sick or exhausted men, who strewed the 
route of the hurried columns — their pinched and 
worn faces — their eyes half closed, gazing into 
space — their bodies crouched or cramped with pain, 
supported against trees or fences, or lying prone 
upon the ground ; the men almost always clinging to 
their rifles. "If one had told me yesterday," said 
an officer on his first march with the army, "that 
I cduld pass one man so stricken, and not stop 
to aid or console him, I should have resented the 
charge as a slander, and already I have passed 
hundreds." Many, many such, necessarily aban- 
doned to their fate, crept into the woods and died. 
Under repeated orders, all men absent and not 
accounted for, should have been reported as desert- 
ers, but Captains were more merciful than the 
orders, and few were found to brand as ignominious 
the names of men who deserved rather to be canon- 
ized as martyrs. 


Another memor}' is of a gallant Captain of 
artillery, whose battery marched just in advance 
of our Regiment — of an aide galloping back and 
wheeling to the Captain's side to communicate an 
order — the quick question, "where?" a short answer, 
a note of a bugle, and the Captain dashes off to our 
left, followed by his battery — the thunderous rumble 
of caissons and gun-carriages dying away as they 
pass out of our sight over a swell of land. It is 
strange that as this scene is recalled where a 
fellow-soldier rushed to immediate death, a promi- 
nent feature of the picture is the vivid color of the 
mass of blue flowers which clothed the entire field 
through which his battery dashed away from our 

Another turn of the mnemonic glass, and we see 
the country about Manassas trodden into a vast 
highway. Just there Stuart had captured a train 
laden with quartermaster's stores, and the ground 
all about was strewn with broken cases and what 
had been their contents — new uniforms, undercloth- 
ing, hats and shoes, from which men helped them- 
selves at will, leaving the old where they found the 
new. Near by, on the railroad track, waited a 
long train loaded with sick and wounded — the cars 
packed full, and many lying on the top unsheltered 
in the sun. 

Yet again, and we are in sight of Thoroughfare, 
and see the long lines of dust revealing the march 
of Lee's army down towards us from the Gap, and 
we remember the applause we gave when the first 


shell from Hazlitt's parrot guns exploded exactly in 
a line of rebel infantry (scattering them as is rarely 
done except in cheap engravings), and how little 
we appreciated the like accurac}' of aim by which 
an enemy's shot killed two men in one of our own 

And again there comes a mental photograph, date 
and locality indistinct, which represents nineteen 
officers gathered about a sumptuous repast, com- 
prising three loaves of old bread, a fragment of 
cheese and a half canteen of water, almost as stale 
as the bread, and the careful watch of Field upon 
Staff and Staff upon Line, to see that only one 
swallow of water is taken by each in his turn. 

And finally, we stand blocking the way to gaze 
upon a wrecked omnibus, inscribed — "Georgetown 
and Navy Yard" — one of many vehicles impressed 
in Washington and sent out as ambulances, and 
which, after reviving in us memories of civilization, 
was to become a trophy in the hands of the enemy. 


WHEN the 32d Regiment left Massachusetts in 
May, the war fever was raging, and it was 
supposed that it would be the work but of a few 
days to recruit the four companies required to com- 
plete the Regiment, and it was clearly understood 
that the first recruits were to be assigned to us. But 
being out of sight we were indeed out of mind, and 
the pressure of officers interested in constructing 
new regiments constantly delayed our claims to 

In two months over three thousand volunteers had 
been accepted, of whom only one hundred (our 
Company G) had been assigned to us. The ren- 
dezvous for the Eastern part of the State was the 
camp at Lynnfield, which was placed under the 
command of Colonel Maggi, of the 33d. His own 
regiment occupied the chief part of the camp, and 
the only entrance to it was through his regimental 
guard. Both he and his Lieutenant Colonel, a 
3^oung and handsome officer named Underwood, 
had a quick eye for a promising recruit, and as the 
constantly arriving volunteers passed within the 


lines, the best were drafted into the 33d, and the 
remainder were passed into the command of Major 
Wilde, whose camp was just beyond. 

Dr. Edward A. Wilde, afterward Colonel of the 
35th Massachusetts, and yet later Brigadier General 
of Volunteers, was commissioned, July 24th, 1862, 
to till the the then vacant majority in the 3 2d, and 
had been temporarily placed in charge of the 
unattached volunteers at Lynniield, three hundred of 
whom had been roughly fashioned into companies, 
and were to be assigned to us. 

Upon Colonel Parkers return to Massachusetts, 
Governor Andrew gave to our matters his willing 
attention. Upon inspection of the three companies, 
the Colonel thought that he could do better than to 
take Colonel Maggi's rejected recruits, and they 
were accordingly transferred to the 35th. 

At the urgent request of the authorities of New- 
ton, supported by the Honorable J. Wiley Edmands, 
a company raised entirely in that town was reg- 
imented in the 3 2d. A company from Charlestown 
was made the basis of Company I, and taking a 
lesson from Colonel Maggi, whose regiment happily 
was now filled, a third company was organized at 
the camp by selecting from the town quotas the 
choicest material, and passing over the remainder 
to the 35th. We were able to accomplish this by 
the active aid of ovn: Major Wilde. If the Major 
had known that he was to be the first Colonel of the 
35th, that regiment might perhaps have been bene- 
fitted, but the 32d undoubtedly owed to his want of 


prophetic vision the fact that its 3d Battalion was 
composed of men in every respect equal to those of 
its First. 

On the 2d of August the companies were detached 
from Major Wilde's recruits and ordered to report to 
Colonel Parker, who at once moved them some eight 
hundred yards awa}', where they encamped in a 
charming spot, between the pond and the highway, 
until they should be provided with clothing, arms, 
and equipments. 

The beauty and convenience of that camp has 
impressed its memory upon every soldier of the 
Battalion ; but the proprietor of the land did not 
seem to be equally pleased with an arrangement to 
which very possibly his previous consent was not 
obtained ; but if he expected to drive us away by 
removing the rope and bucket from the well near 
by, he was sadly disappointed. He presented to 
the Colonel a huge bill for the use of the premises, 
and for damages caused by the cutting down of a 
sapling elm, and the removal of a rod or two of 
stone wall. If he never collected it he should have 
been comforted by the fact that we never charged 
him for the construction of two good wells on the 
ground, and the stones of his fence may yet be 
found in the walls of those wells. 

On the 6th Colonel Parker left to rejoin the regi- 
ment, leaving the Battalion to follow under Major 
Wilde, but the Major was promoted to the 35th, and 
it was not until the 20th that the three companies, 
commanded by the senior Captain (Moultoir), left 


Lynntield by railroad to Somerville, thence marching 
to Charlestown, where a generous entertainment had 
been provided for them by the citizens. That even- 
ing they left by the Providence Railroad — the entire 
route through the cities of Charlestown and Boston 
being one ovation. At Stonington they took the 
steamer, landing the next morning at Jersey City, 
and taking a train for Philadelphia. Through that 
good cit}^ they marched to the Cooper Refreshment 
Rooms, and being well fed and otherwise refreshed, 
moved thence to the Baltimore Station. It was well 
into the next day before the}^ arrived in that town of 
doubtful loyalty, and it was morning on the 22d 
when they landed in Washington, and took up 
quarters at the railroad barracks. 

While the commanding officer was endeavoring 
to find somebody to give him orders, several hours 
of liberty were allowed to the men, few of whom 
had ever seen Washington. It was not the quiet 
place that it had been when the right wing arrived 
there months before, but was again astir with signs 
of active war. The movement to effect a junction 
between the armies of Generals McClellan and 
Pope was in progress, and long trains of wagons 
were moving between Alexandria and the various 
depots of supplies, and ambulances loaded with sick 
and wounded streamed to and from the hospitals, 
while on the walks, men in uniforms, some brand 
new and some ragged and dirty, jostled each other ; 
new recruits from the North — garrison men from 
the forts — stragglers and convalescents from the 
armies in the field. 


If at the word hospital there is presented to the 
mind's eye of the reader a spacious structure in stone 
or brick, covered with a dome and expanding into 
wings, all embosomed in a park-like enclosure, with 
verdant lawns shaded by trees and mottled with 
shrubbery, that reader did not go to muster in Vir- 
ginia in '62. Provision thought to be ample had 
been made in Washington, by the construction in 
several unoccupied squares, of rows of detached 
wooden sheds, each of which was the ward of a 
hospital. Rough and unattractive as these appeared 
set down among the dusty streets, upon a plot of 
land from which every green thing was trodden out, 
their interiors were in fact models of neatness, 
and in some sort, of comfort. But the battles of the 
Peninsula had soon tilled these, and when there 
were added to them the sick from McClellan's army 
and the invalids from Pope's, every available build- 
ing was taken, and tinally when within ten days, 
eight thousand patients were added from the James 
River, vacant house-lots were occupied, and for 
want of tents, awnings of sails or boards were laid 
over rough frames, and the passer-by could see the 
patients stretched upon the straw. The happy result 
of this, and other enforced experiments, was to prove 
that even these wretched makeshifts were better than 
close-walled houses, for hospital purposes. 

On the 23d the Battalion marched over Long 
Bridge to the town of Alexandria — preferring at 
night the outside of the building designated to shelter 
them. The next day tents and wagons were 


obtained, and on the 25th their first camp was made 
on the hillside, near the Seminary. 

Everything in that neighborhood was in confusion. 
During the week that the command remained 
encamped, Franklin's and Sumner's corps arrived at 
Alexandria, and not only was the town crowded 
with soldiers, but the woods were full of them, and 
all the energies of the authorities were devoted to 
endeavors to supply them, and push them out to the 
rescue of General Pope's army. 

Considering that nobody, not even the General-in- 
chief, knew where Pope's army was, it is not sur- 
prising that all the efforts made by officers to find 
our Regiment were fruitless ; indeed it mattered 
little that they were, for the wagons were taken 
away for the pressing service of more experienced 
troops, who were unable to move for want of trans- 

At last, on the 3d of September, the locality of 
Porter's Corps was ascertained, and the Battalion 
joined the rest of the Regiment. There was a 
striking contrast in the appearance of the old and 
new companies. The three new companies out- 
numbered all the other seven. The veterans looked 
with wonder upon the fresh northern faces and the 
bright new uniforms, while the recruits scanned 
with at least equal surprise the mud-stained, worn, 
and weary men who were to be their comrades. 
So long were the new platoons, that the detach- 
ment was christened "Moulton's Brigade," but the 
superioritv of numbers was not long with them, and 


two weeks of campaigning amalgamated the com- 

The three companies comprising our "3d Bat- 
talion" were — 

Company H, recruited at the Lynnheld Camp, 
commanded by Captain Henry W. Moulton ; its 
Lieutenants were John H. Whidden and Joseph 
W. Wheelwright. 

Company I, recrviited in Charlestown, Captain 
Hannibal D. Norton ; Lieutenants, Chas. H. Hurd 
and Lucius H. Warren, since Brevet Brigadier- 

Company K, recruited in Newton, Captain J. 
Cushing Edmands, afterwards Colonel and Brevet 
Brigadier-General ; Lieutenants, Ambrose Bancroft 
and John F. Boyd. 

At Upton's Hill the complete organization of the 
Regiment was published in the orders. The Lieu- 
tenant Colonel was promoted to be Colonel, Cap- 
tain Prescott to be Lieutenant Colonel, and Captain 
Stephenson to be Major. The medical staff' con- 
sisted of Z. Boylston Adams, Surgeon, with the 
rank of Major; William Lyman Faxon and W. H. 
Bigelow, Assistant Surgeons, ranking as First Lieu- 
tenants ; W. T. M. Odiorne, Hospital Steward. 
The non-commissioned staff consisted of James P. 
Wade, Sergeant Major; James A. White, Quarter- 
master Sergeant ; Charles E. Madden, Commissary 
Sergeant ; and Freeman Field, Principal Musician. 

Dr. Bigelow, Steward Odiorne, and Sergeant 
Madden, were new appointments. All the rest had 



been with the Regiment through all its experience 
in the field. 

No chaplain was ever commissioned in the 3 2d, 
no application having ever been made on the part 
of the line officers, to whom belonged the initiative, 
and none being desired, so far as was known by 
any officer or man. 

In an army composed of men of many different 
religious beliefs, as was the case in ours, the chap- 
lains should constitute a stafi' corps, its members 
proportioned as to faith, in some degree to the 
requirements of the army, so that from the head- 
quarters of an army or corps details might be made 
of the proper men for any required duty. Attached 
to regimental headquarters, they were very gener- 
ally utterly inefficient for good professionally. It 
was the rule with us that, when any of the sick 
were near death, the fact should be reported to the 
commanding officer, who was often the first to com- 
municate the tidings, and who invariably enquired 
of the dying man if he desired the service of a 
chaplain. When this was desired, an orderly was 
sent with the compliments of the Colonel, to some 
chaplain near by, to ask his attendance. With only 
rare exceptions such services were cheerfully and 
promptly rendered. 

The burial service was usually read by the com- 
manding officer over the bodies of our dead ; but in 
one case, where the man had been a Roman Cath- 
olic, it was thought better to ask the attendance of 
a chaplain of that faith. It happened that the 


orderly could not readily tind one, and could find 
only one, and returned with the unusual reply that 
the chaplain could not come. 

Upon further inquir}' it appeared tluit the orderly 
had presented the message, with the compliments of 
the Colonel, to the chaplain, who was reposing after 
dinner. "Was he a good Catholic?" enquired the 
priest. The orderly assured him that he was. "My 
compliments to the Colonel, then, and tell him he 
can bury him. It is all right." With which reply 
the messenger was compelled to return. Failing 
the orderly's assurance of the man's good and reg- 
ular standing, of course the chaplain would have 
escaped the duty too. 

In November, 1862, our camp hospital offered 
merely a canvas tent for shelter, and some straw 
spread upon the frosty ground for bedding. One 
of the patients, in view of approaching death, ex- 
pressed to the Adjutant his wish to be baptized, 
and of course a messenger was sent forth to seek a 
chaplain, with the customary compliments, and to 
ask his attendance on a dying man. 

A chaplain promptly appeared at our headquarters, 
was escorted to the hospital tent and left at the side 
of the sick man. Very soon after, the Colonel, 
meeting the reverend officer pacing thoughtfully in 
the open air, stopped and enquired as to the patient's 
condition. Evidently' considerably embarrassed, the 
chaplain said "you did not tell me that the man 
wanted baptism." "Very true," was the reply, "but 
why is that any difficulty ?" "Because," rejoined the 


clergyman, hesitatingly, "I am of the Baptist per- 
suasion, and this is no case for immersion." 

It was very awkward, but the Colonel, who had 
thought only of a chaplain as the proper officer for 
a present duty, apologized for his want of thought, 
thanked the gentleman, and said that he would try 
again, or if it became necessary, would himself ad- 
minister the holy rite. The chaplain, however, re- 
quested a few minutes for reflection, at the end of 
which he decided to officiate himself and did so, first 
taking the precaution to enquire of the soldier 
whether he preferred immersion or sprinkling, the 
latter of which very naturally was elected. 


Until September 12th, our Division remained at 
Upton's Hill, while the rest of the Army of the 
Potomac drew off into Maryland in observation of 
General Lee, concerning whose movements no def- 
inite information could for a time be obtained. 

It was a favorite theory among the authorities in 
Washington that General Lee would lead McClellan 
off into Western Maryland, and then slip round into 
his rear and capture the aforesaid authorities. Of 
course 80,000 men do not slip about such a country 
very easily, and of course General Lee would never 
have dared to place his army between the forts of 
Washington and the Army of the Potomac ; but 
even such absurd fears required consideration, and 
in addition to the artillery garrisons in the forts and 
the new levies inside the defences, Morell's division 
was left for a time to watch the approaches to the 
Chain Bridge, which was the weakest point in the 
defences of the city. 

During these days the various corps of the army 
whose organization a week before had been almost 
destroyed, were marching through the town in 
columns of platoons, with their drums beating and 


colors flying, their array as fine as it would have 
been on parade before they had ever seen the 
enemy, and inspiring all who saw them to a happy 
augury of the result of the first Maryland campaign. 

On the nth, our Division received orders to join 
the army in the field with all possible speed, and on 
the 1 2th we folded our tents, and took the route in the 
track of our comrades. As usual the start was 
delayed until the sun was well up in the sky, and 
before we were out of the District of Columbia the 
heat had become oppressive, and the men, espec- 
ially those of the new companies, were suffering 
greatly. Our route was from Upton's Hill past Fort 
Corcoran, through Georgetown and Washington, and 
out by 7th street. 

Early in the day came a circular order to be read 
at the head of each company denouncing the penalty 
of death, without trial, as the punishment for strag- 
gling, the utter absurdity of which was shown by 
the fact that before nightfall one-third of the men 
had fallen out of their ranks, the order to the con- 
trary notwithstanding. The old soldiers, happily, 
(or unhappily) had learned that the bark of the 
orders was worse than their bite, but the new re- 
cruits had the impression, as yet, that orders meant 
what they said, and believed that the officers would 
shoot down all those who faltered ; consequently, 
what between soldierly ambition and personal fear, 
the new men would struggle on until they could do 
so no longer. The day was burning hot, and the 
last hour before noon was chosen to give the com- 


mand one pull of three miles without rest; and 
when at last tiie bugle sounded "halt,"' not less than 
titty of our men fell exhausted, fainting or sunstruck, 
several of them raving with insane imaginings. 

Although we tarried at this place for an hour or 
more, the Colonel assuming the responsibility to fall 
out with his entire command, it was found necessary 
at last to leave some twenty men w^ho needed rest 
and care, the greater part of whom were finally dis- 
charged from hospitals disabled for service. Here, 
too, in order to lighten the march, a quantity of 
knapsacks and blankets were left stored in a barn, 
but before our teams could return for them the whole 
had been gobbled by stragglers. 

It was after dark when at last we halted for the 
night, and the Adjutant's returns showed that one of 
the new companies then numbered three officers and 
seven men, and another no officers and one man* 
present for duty. We bivouacked in columns of 
companies, and that one man executed under his 
own command the company right wheel, dressed his 
ranks, stacked his arm (by plunging the bayonet into 
the ground), called the roll, broke ranks, supped, 
and slept the sleep of the just. 

The next two days' march brought us, via Middle- 
brook, Clarksville, and H3^attstown to Frederick ; 
the w^eather, though clear, was not so hot as on the 
1 2th, the men were in better condition and, on the 
whole, we gained in numbers. Many will remem- 

* Private Isaac W Thurlow, of Methuen, afterward promoted 
to be Lieutenant C. T. 


ber our bivouac that Sunday evening as the place 
where they indulged in a welcome bath in the clear 
waters of the Monocacy river. All day on the 14th 
(Sunday), we heard heavy firing, and on the 15th 
the sound of heavy guns at Harper's Ferry con- 
tinued to assure us that our flag still was there, but 
its sudden cessation at last told as plainly of the 

Our march of the 15th and i6th, although rapid, 
was not exhausting ; the air was more autumnal, 
and we were cheered by the evidence of the fact 
that we were the pursuers. Large numbers of rebel 
prisoners passed us going to our rear. As we 
marched through Frederick we were greeted with 
hearty cheers from civilians and the weaving ker- 
chiefs of ladies, and children distributed ripe fruits, 
which were most welcome to the bilious soldiers. On 
the South Mountain battle-field a detail was burying 
the dead, and we saw^ man}- bodies in grey uniforms 
awaiting burial. We had previously met and saluted 
the dead General Reno, borne to the rear in an 
ambulance draped with the national colors. 

As we passed over one of the mountain ridges, 
there broke upon our sight a view such as New 
England cannot offer. A valley stretching far away 
on either hand, everywhere divided into large 
fields of rich farming lands, among which the homes 
of well-to-do farmers stood, with groups of barns 
and granges and hay ricks gathered about them, 
the whole testifying to the comfort and wealth of the 
inhabitants. At every house there were words of 


welcome and cheer. The entire population evi- 
dently was in sympathy with our cause, and their 
recent sight of the retreating army of the enemy 
had evidently strengthened their enthusiasm for his 

It was almost sundown on the i6th when we came 
up with main body of our army between Keedys- 
ville and Antietam Creek. The air was full of 
smoke from the camp-hres, and the hillsides alive 
with the men, who were making ready for their 
supper and their sleep. Our Division was guided 
into the field assigned to us, and our men were soon 
deep in similar preparations. 

We knew that the hostile armies were now face 
to face, and that a great battle was imminent. 
Curiosity led many to gather on the hilltops and to 
look over what was to be the battlefield, to the crests 
of the low hills on the opposite bank of the stream, 
where we could see the spires of the little town of 
Sharpsburg sharply defined against the warm sky, 
and the smoke from the rebel camp-fires glowing in 
the light of the setting sun. A few well-directed 
shells from the enemy's batteries however, dulled 
our curiosity in that direction, and we turned to our 
camps to see how an army looks upon the eve of a 
pitched battle. 

The eastward slopes of the hills on the left branch 
of the Antietam were occupied by the infantr}^ 
of the army of McClellan, extending some four 
miles from right to left. Near the tops of these hills 
a few batteries of artillery were ready for use at a 


moment's notice, but more of them were below us, 
their horses feeding at the picket ropes, the men 
busy about their supper. 

Farther away to the rear the ammunition w^agons 
were parked, those of each division by themselves, 
and yet farther back the supply trains of the differ- 
ent corps, and the reserve divisions of artillery and 

There was every show of complete readiness for 
the morrow, in the array of the troops and the pro- 
vision for the fight — but everything was busy and 
cheery. As night fell the smoke became less dense, 
and the bright light of a thousand glowing fires 
enlivened the scene. There was no sign of haste 
or of anxiety ; occasionally a mule sounded his 
trumpet as a signal for more feed, and often the 
sound of horses' feet was heard as some officer or 
orderly galloped leisurely by ; there was some sing- 
ing and much laughter heard from the various 
camps, and at last the stirring but confused sound of 
the tattoo along the whole line from the bugles of 
the distant cavalry and the neighboring artillery, and 
the drums and fifes of the infantry of the line. 

Then came gentle sleep, nowhere more grateful 
and welcome than in the bivouac of the soldier on 
the night before the battle. 

From dawn to dark no fairer sky was ever seen 
than that beneath which, on the 17th day of 
September, 1862, w^as fought the battle of the 
Antietam. It may be doubted whether there was in 
the history of our civil war, any instance of a battle 


for which the prepare) tion was on both sides so com- 
plete, of which the ti'ild was more free and open to 
the movements of the troops and the oversight of 
the commanders, or in which the result depended so 
directly upon the ability of the generals and the 
conduct of the troops, and so little upon purely 
accidental occurrences. 

The Confederate army occupied the crest of the 
rising ground which lies immediately w^est of the 
Antietam, and between it and the Potomac. That 
portion of this crest in which lay the left and the 
centre of their army, was for the most part wooded 
and broken by outcropping ledges, and through it 
ran roads whose fences and cuts afforded frequent 
vantage ground for a defensive force. Their right 
was in an open country, but one intersected by 
stone walls, and presenting on the side toward the 
Union lines very abrupt declivities. 

The left of our army (directly opposite the rebel 
right), were posted on low hill's, whose western 
sides were also steep and rough. Between the two 
positions the gap w^as just sufficient for the passage 
of the little river and for a narrow country road on 
either bank, and here the stream was spanned by a 
stone bridge of three arches, since known as Burn- 
side's bridge. 

Nearly a mile above, over a similar bridge, the 
Sharpsburg turnpike crossed the Antietam, cutting 
by a direct line the centres of both armies. Lying 
across this road, east of the river, on commanding 
ground, the corps of Gen. Porter held the centre of 


the loyal army, connecting vdth Burnside on the 
left and with Sumner on the right. On the right of 
the Union army was Hooker's corps, on the west 
bank of the stream, and almost in contact with the 
rebel left, occupying the ground which the}' had 
won from the enemy at nightfall of the day before ; 
both parties in the same wood sleeping on their arms 
in line of battle. 

Taken together, the positions of the two armies 
described a figure not unlike the letter D, of which 
the curved portion may represent the Union lines, 
and the straight part (wiiich was in fact also curved), 
those of the Confederates. Except at our left (the 
bottom of the D), our army held both banks of the 
Antietam, and at both extremes the two armies 
almost touched. 

Standincr among- the oruns of Porter's batteries, 

o o o 

about the centre of the Union lines, one seemed to 
look down upon the field, the whole of which, ex- 
cept the immediate vicinity of Burnside's bridge, 
was open to the view. Directly in our front the 
Antietam washed the base of the hill, on the rounded 
summit of which the guns were placed, but from the 
farther bank the land rose gently rolling to the lines 
of the army of our enemy. Between us and the 
rebel centre were cleared fields, many of them 
bearing crops of nearly ripened corn, bounded to 
the left by steep hill-sides closing in to the river, but 
on the right running up to a glade bordered by 
woodlands. In these w^oods, and in and over that 
glade, occurred the severest struggles and the great- 


est slaughter of this hard-fought battle. Near 
Porter's lines, on yet higher land, the headquarters 
of our army were established for the day. 

Of the curving line of the union army, the left 
was the corps of General Burnside, the centre the 
corps of General Porter, and the right the corps of 
General Hooker ; but in the rear of Hooker was the 
corps of General Mansfield, and behind it that of 
General Sumner, while the force of General Frank- 
lin, just up from Pleasant Valley, acted as the 

McClellan's plan of the battle was to make the 
principal attack from his right, but as soon as that 
was well engaged, to throw Burnside from his left 
against the right of Lee, not absolutely as a real 
attack, but by menacing the road to the ford which 
was Lee's only line of retreat, to occupy and divert 
certain portions of the Confederate army, and thus 
reduce its power of resistance to the real attack 
upon the other flank. 

By reason of the curvation of the line, our bat- 
teries in its centre could reach effectively the whole 
extent of the front of the enemy from left to right ; 
and throughout the day, as opportunity ofl^ered, the 
guns did good execution, and more especially upon 
our right where we could annoy the rebel infantry 
while in the cover of the woods, and entilade them 
whenever they appeared in the open glade. 

At break of day the rattling volleys of musketry 
on the right told that Hooker was opening the great 
struggle. Soon occasional deep thuds of his cannon 


were also heard, then nearer and more constant came 
the sounds approaching from both wings, until our 
own batteries in the centre joined in the din. Along 
the whole line gun for o-un came back — as if echoed 
from the other ridge — the voice of the invading army 
from lips of bronze and iron, and its exploding mes- 
sengers repeated in our ears the arguments of war, 
until hundreds of heavy guns were united in one 
deep quivering roar. And although there was ris- 
ing and falling in the sound, yet until nightfall the 
sound of battle never ceased. 

Just across the creek the skirmishers of our corps 
showed like dotted lines upon the fields ; now and 
then we could see the smoke puff from their rifles, 
although the sound was lost in that of the general 
conflict. On the left, until afternoon, no movements 
were visible, but across that open glade, far awa}^ on 
the ricrht, the tide of battle ebbed and flowed. 

First from the edgfe of the woods on our side, 
appeared a ragged line of men fleeing for their 
lives, and following them the solid front of Hook- 
er's corps, firing as it followed. 

The fugitives were three brigades of Jackson's 
men, and the dark spots before the advancing line 
were the first fruits of that harvest of slaughter, whose 
winrows before nighttall traversed the whole of that 
fatal glade. 

Hooker's men had nearly crossed the open ground 
when the whole of Jackson's corps burst from the 
western wood and met them in the open field ; 
Hooker against Jackson — that was the tug of war. 


No sign of yielding could be marked on either side. 
Both lines became involved in the smoke ot their 
rifles, but whenever the breeze wafted the smoke 
away, the reduced number of the combatants could 
be noted, and the trinfje of wounded men and their 
too numerous helpers, which always hangs from the 
rear in the battle line, was constantly visible between 
each body and its nearest sheltering wood. 

There was no moment when this contest ended ; 
no line was seen pursuing or pursued, but little by 
little both melted away ; and when all were gone, 
out from the edge of the woods on either side 
belched the fire and smoke of the batteries. 

Now seven o'clock by Sharpsburg time. The 
scattered men of the broken divisions of each army 
sought the friendly shelter of the lines which were 
advancing to relieve them. Hood of Longstreet's 
command, was marshalling his brigades within the 
timber on the west, and Mansfield's corps was 
moving up through the rough woodland on the 
east, and for a season the open space between was 
unoccupied save by the dead and wounded, and the 
rolling, drifting smoke from the artillery. 

The next movement visible to us was from the 
Confederate side, whence, with a rapid rush, came 
the command of General Hood, — Texas, Georgia, 
and Alabama men. In a few minutes they had 
crossed the open field in the face of our guns, and 
although a portion of their line faltered, yet another 
pushed even up to the line of our batteries, silenc- 
ing almost every gun. Mansfield had fallen, but 


his men were there, and their rattling volleys showed 
that the enemy could get no foothold in the wood, 
just in the edge of which the line of smoke hung 
steadily an hour or more. 

At nine o'clock the contest was for the moment 
ended by the advance of Sedgwick's division of 
Sumner's corps, before which the southern troops 
broke and fled over the glade to the cover opposite, 
and again our guns opened upon their shelter. 

Sedgwick's division was the right of Sumner's 
corps, and now between it and us moved up from 
the Antietam the divisions of Richardson and 
French, his left and centre. Unobserved by the 
enemy, we could see them forming for the attack, 
and we watched with intense interest their steady 
progress diagonally across our front. As they 
crossed the summit of each rise, they came under 
the fire of the rebel batteries ; but our twenty- 
pounders playing over their heads, kept the rebel 
lines crackling with shells, to the comfort of our 
friends and the confusion of their foes. In each 
depression of the land Richardson and French 
halted to dress their ranks, and then moved quickly 
on ; and so they won closer and closer to the 
enemy, until they were so near that the guns of 
our batteries could not help nor those of the enemy 
hurt them. Here, in a field of standing corn, they 
came upon the infantry of General Hill, who, pro- 
tected by fences and road cuttings, opened a galling 
fire. Receiving but not answering this, Sumner's 
divisions, aided by horse batteries from Porter's 


corps, dashed forward and secured these defences 
for themselves, driving out the Confederate infantry' 
on- the right, capturing or slaying them in the 
sunken road on the left. For a few brief minutes 
the carnage was terrihc. 

Here Richardson and French, not without fre- 
quent contests, held their advanced position all the 
day. We have described their movement as if it 
had been an isolated one ; but it was not so. The 
right of Sumner's corps, the division of "Old John" 
Sedgwick, was carrying everything before it. It 
swept in solid form across the glade, and pushed 
out of our sight into and through what we have 
called the western wood, and into the open land 

The violence of this attack outran discretion and 
the division found itself out in the open fields with 
no support on either flank, and met by fresh troops 
of the enemy. Falling slowly back it came into 
line with the division of General French, but leav- 
ing a great gap between, into which the advancing 
forces of the enemy hastened to drive a cleaving 

It was now one o'clock P. M., and we held the 
whole of the right and centre of General Lee's orig- 
inal position, but not firmly. Besides the danger at 
the gap between Sedgwick and French, the latter 
was short of ammunition and Sedgwick's right was 

At this time, most opportunely, McClellan ord- 
ered forward his reserve, the corps of General 



Franklin ; and that officer dividing his command, 
closed up the threatened gap, re-inforced French's 
line and strengthened Sedgwick's right, welding the 
whole to such tough consistency that no further 
impression could be made. What we had won we 

Three o'clock in the afternoon and nothing seen 
of Burnside yet. 

The most untutored of those who had watched 
the varying fortunes of the lield could see that if 
Lee's right had been attacked while McClellan was 
thus hammering on his left, either his right or left 
must have yielded. We had seen troops moving 
from the one flank to reinforce the other, until it 
seemed as if none could remain to hold the right. 
From officers about the headquarters we knew 
that McClellan, in person, had the night before 
advanced the division of Burnside's corps close to 
the bridge, and that he had told that general to 
reconnoitre carefully, in readiness for attacking in 
the morning. We knew that at six o'clock he had 
been ordered to form his troops for the assault upon 
the bridge, and that at eight o'clock orders had been 
sent to carry the bridge, gain the heights, and move 
upon Sharpsburg. 

General McClellan himself looked not more 
anxiously for movement on the left, than did we who 
saw the gallant fighting of the right ; but five hours 
had passed before the capture of the bridge by the 
twin 5ists of New York and Pennsylvania, and 
since then two more of those priceless hours had 


passed away. Oh ! if Sheridan or our Griffin could 
but have been commanding there. 

The last peremptory order to advance and " not to 
stop for loss of life" produced the wished-for move- 
ment, but it was too late and too hesitating to accom- 
plish great results. 

When, at last, the heights were gained, the 
division of A. P. Hill had arrived to reinforce the 
enemy, who could also spare something from in front 
of our now-weakened right. 

Burnside's men fought well — gave only slowly 
back, and that not far. Six battalions of regulars 
from our corps moved to the front, joining the right 
of Burnside's corps to the left of Sumner's, and 
leaving our (Morell's) division, in the rear of the 
advanced line, the only reserve force of McCiellan's 
army. One brigade was sent to the left to strengthen 
Burnside, and at five P. M., our own, the last, 
was marched toward the right, but the declining sun 
already showed that the contest for the day must 
soon be ended. Just as it reached the horizon there 
was one roaring y^w d'ctifcr along both lines, and 
almost of a sudden the firing ceased, and the battle 
of the Antietam had filled its page in histor}-. It was 
an important victory. By it Washington, Maryland, 
and Pennsylvania were relieved from menace and 
the country for a time was grateful. 

Just as it appeared to the looker-on the battle of 
Antietam has been described. What happened, 
before our eyes has been told, without digressions, 
and the digressions mav now be added. 


The battle-tield was all day long bathed in sun- 
shine ; hardly one cloud appeared to throw even a 
passing shadow over the fair autumnal landscape, of 
which the background was made up of shadowed 
tracts of woodland, and into which were introduced 
blocks of rough pasture, lawn-like vistas, rolling 
fields of corn ready for the harvest, with just enough 
of distant spire and nearer farmstead to add a look 
of human comfort to the natural beaut}' of the scene. 
Although the foreground and the middle distance of 
this picture were occupied by the various combatants 
— killing and maiming — wounded and dying — 
tliere was present to our sight no blemish of horror. 
We saw no ghastly wounds, no streams of flowing 
gore ; we heard no groans nor sighs nor oaths of 
the struggle, and rarely did the sound even of south- 
ern yells or northern cheers penetrate the massive 
roar of ordnance to reach our ears ; and yet betbre 
our eyes was fought a battle in which four thousand 
men were slain, and fifteen thousand more were dis- 
abled by savage wounds. 

So entirely were the sadder sights of bloody war 
excluded from our minds, that when two men of our 
Regiment were badly wounded by the accidental dis- 
charge of a falling rifle, the incident created almost 
as much excitement as one like it might have done 
at a muster of militia here at home. 

It must not be imagined that any one of us stood 
throughout that equinoctial day gazing upon the 
sunlit scene beyond the Antietam, for in time even 
the terrible events of battle fall tamely upon eye and 


ear. In the long pauses between the rounds of 
infantry fighting we sat down upon the green sward 
and ate our lunch, or strolled away to talk with 
the staff officers abovit the headquarters, or over 
to one of our other brigades to discuss the incidents 
of the action, or to hear or tell the news of its latest 

The rank and tile who had not the same liberty to 
stray away, and who, screened from the field by the 
knoll on which our batteries were planted, saw little 
or nothing of the fight — passed the time in chat 
with laugh and story, as they stood, or sat, or laid, 
keeping in some sort the form of the massed column 
which was more distinctly marked by lines of rifles 
in the stack. Ever}- man of them knew that at any 
moment he might be called to be reaper or grain in 
the harvest of death so near at hand ; but men can- 
not keep themselves strained up to the pitch of 
heroic thought or wearing anxiety, and so within the 
line of battle our men joked and laughed and talked 
and ate, or even slept in the warm sunshine. 

No heartier laugh ever rewarded Irish wit than 
that which shook our sides when Guiney, the hand- 
some Colonel of the Massachusetts 9th, bedecking 
himself in the gorgeous apparel of a brilliant sash, 
was reminded that it would make him a capital mark 
for the enemy's sharp-shooters, and replied, ''and 
wouldn't you have me a handsome corpse?" 

Early in the day, as soon as we were in position 
in rear of the batteries, some of our mounted officers 
naturally desiring to get a correct idea of the lav of 


the land and the order of the battle, rode at a foot 
pace to the summit of the knoll in front, and from their 
saddles were quietly examining the position of 
affairs through field-glasses, and pointing hither and 
yon as they conversed, when the chief of some rebel 
battery, possibly suspecting them to be big generals 
and high functionaries, began from two guns some 
practice with round shot, using the mounted officers 
for the bull's-eye of the target. In their innocence 
they assumed that this sort of thing was a matter of 
course on such occasions, and for a time they went 
on with their observations. 

It was not lono- however before the aim became 
more accurate, and our officers suddenly became 
aware of the scared looks of the German gunners, 
who, watching for the smoke of the rebel guns, 
dodged behind the trail of their own pieces until the 
shot had passed by, and presently a sergeant vent- 
ured to suggest that the gentlemen were drawing 
the fire on the battery, and to prefer the request 
that they would send away the horses and pursue 
their study of the field dismounted, which not 
unwillingly they did. 

Not far from mid-day, in an interval of compar- 
ative quiet along the lines, most of us stretched at 
full length basking in the sun and waiting for "what 
next?" enjoyed a beautiful sight in the endeavor of 
the enemy to shell our division. 

As we were hidden from his view no direct shot 
could reach us, and he seemed to have calculated 
that by exploding his shells high in the air, the frag- 


ments could be dropped amonu- our ranks. What 
became of the fragments we did not know, hardly 
one of them fell near us, none of them did us injury ; 
but we watched for the shells with interest, and were 
sorry when they came no more. Gazing up into 
the clear blue sky there would from time to time 
suddenly appear a little cloudlet, which unfolding 
itself drifted lazily away, and soon melted in the 
air. Each of these cloudlets was the smoke from 
an exploding shell, the rapid flight of which gave 
no other evidence of its existence to the eye, and 
all sound was lost in the general tumult. Each 
seemingly miraculous appearance of the cloudlet 
was hailed with admiration, and we were quite 
ready to enjoy the entertainment as long as our 
friend the enemy chose to supply it, and were 
inclined to be gruff with him when it stopped. 

While the divisions of Generals Richardson and 
French were advancing on the Confederate centre, 
a gun from one of Porter's horse batteries was run 
out quite a distance to the left, where, from a little 
swell of land, entirely unsupported, it opened upon 
the rebel infantry. The rake upon the enemy's line 
was so complete that after the first few shots we 
could see them breaking ; but the position was unten- 
able and after the gun had been discharged perhaps 
a dozen times, the enemy got two guns to bear upon 
it, whereupon our gun was hastily limbered up and 
went scampering back to cover as fast as four horses 
could run with it, and as it went rebel shots could be 
seen striking up the dust all about its track, as the 


stones Strike about an escaping dog when boys are 
pelting him. 

When such an incident occurred we could hardly 
refrain from cheers. And when — as was once or 
twice the case — we could see some movement of the 
enemy against our lines which was unseen to those 
it menaced, it was almost irresistible to cry out a 
warning, and several times shells from the batteries 
of our division gave to the Union troops the tirst 
warning of a threatening movement. 

Twenty-five days after the battle our Company C 
on detached service encamped for a night on the 
plateau, the summit of the heights which were won 
by Burnside's charge, and Captain Fuller observ- 
ing that the line of battle could even then be traced 
by the cartridge papers which lay in winrows on 
the ground, wondered that troops which had so 
gallantly charged up the steep ascent should have 
halted in this place long enough to have used so 
many cartridges. 

On the 1 8th of September, Porters corps relieved 
Burnside's at the lower bridge, and then we saw 
only too many of the woful sights which belong to 
battle, and saw them without that halo of excitement 
which in the midst of the contest diminishes their 

On the 19th, at dawn, we were in expectation of 
immediate participation in a second battle, but the 
enemy had retreated. In the pursuit Porter led the 
way. After passing through the town of Sharps- 
burg, the artillery occupied the roadway, the infantry 


moving along the fields on either side. At each 
rise of the land, a few pieces dashed to the summit 
and shelled the nearer woods, the infantry forming 
in the hollow in the rear, and so we felt our way a 
mile or two down to the Potomac. The rear guard 
of the enemy had just crossed the river, and General 
Griffin with parts of two brigades followed closely, 
capturing some prisoners and much property, 
among which were the very guns that were lost on 
the Peninsula from the batter}' he then commanded. 

Returning, he reported the enem}^ as in full flight, 
and on the 20th Porter prepared to give immediate 
chase. A part of one of his divisions had crossed 
the ford and gained the bluffs on the right bank. 
Our own brigade was on the high lands of the other 
bank, when, lookingr across we saw the woods 
swarm out with rebel infantry rushing upon our little 
force. A sharp cannonade checked them and cov- 
ered the return of nearl}- all our regiments, but the 
io8th Pennsylvania was cut off from the road to 
the river crossing, and forced to retire up a rising 
ground, terminating at the river in a high bluff, from 
which the only escape was to scramble down the 
steep cliff and thus to gain the ford. 

The men poured like a cataract over the edge and 
down the declivity, and so long as they stayed at its 
immediate base they were tolerably safe, but their 
assailants soon gained the edge of the bluff and 
lying flat, could pick oft' any who attempted to cross 
to the Maryland side, and many were killed or 
wounded and drowned before our eyes. 


Our brigade was formed near to the ford ; sharp- 
shooters were placed along the river bank, and the 
artillery rattled solid shot upon the summit of the 
bluff. After a time the Pennsylvanians began to 
run the gauntlet of the ford, but it was several hours 
before all of them had left the other shore. 

In this time many gallant acts were performed, 
but none more daring than that of the Adjutant of 
the loSth, who, after reaching the Maryland shore, 
walked back upon the plate of the dam just above 
the ford, and standing there midway across the river, 
exposed from head to heels, shouted the directions 
to his men as to the manner of their escape from 
their awkward fix. 

When this fight at the ford was over it was 
near nightfall, and the army encamped along the 
river side, the pickets of each army occupying its 
own bank, and for weeks it was all quiet on the 


' I ''HE life of a soldier in war-time is made up of 
■*■ alternating seasons of severe toil and of almost 
absolute idleness. For a few weeks he will be 
marched to the utmost limit of endurance — will be 
set to felling forests — building bridges or roads — 
constructing defences — and then may follow other 
weeks when his heaviest occupations are made up of 
drills, parades, and drawing or eating rations. 

Such a time of repose was that which we passed 
on the banks of the Potomac, near Sharpsburg, 
guarding the line of the Potomac which for lack of 
heavy autumnal rains was fordable almost any- 
where. Generals, quartermasters and commissa- 
ries may have been busy, but it was an idle time for 
the bulk of the army. Stretching for some fifteen 
miles along the course of the river, the various corps 
were encamped in due form, the entire regularity 
of which could be seen from any neighboring 
eminence. From some such points one could 
take into view a landscape brilliant with the colors 
of autumn made yet brighter by the gleam of 
the orderly array of white tents, and could see the 
bounds of each regiment, brigade, or division, as if 



marked upon a map. At night, before tattoo, the 
lines of lighted tents would show from a distance, 
like an army of glow-worms. 

To supply the wants of the army of men, another 
army of wagon trains was kept in constant occupa- 
tion, and the road was soon covered with fine dust, 
which rose in clouds when it was stirred by the 
movements of the trains, or by the horses of 
mounted officers or men ; and as these roads 
extended everywhere among the camps, we lived all 
day long in an atmosphere of dirt, which when 
moved by fresh winds, drove and drifted about to 
our exceeding discomfort. As the weather grew 
cooler this was increased by the smoke of the oamp- 
fires, until everybody was habitually clothed in dust, 
and red about the eyes. 

Along the picket lines the men of both armies, 
having agreed not to fire without previous notice, 
lolled in the sunshine, chaffed each other over 
the water, and occasionally traded newspapers even, 
or union cofi^^e for confederate tobacco. 

Once in a while there was a foraging expedition 
or a reconnoissance across the river. In one of 
these we captured quite a number of prisoners at 
Shepardstown, chiefly officers and men absent on 
leave and visiting their friends in that vicinity. One 
reconnoissance to Leetown occupied two days, and 
was followed back right sharply by a strong force 
of the enemy. We remember particularly the fact 
that on the advance we found where a lonp-range 
shell had exploded among a card party of the 


enemy's men, one or two of whom lay dead with the 
cards still in their hands. 

This uneventful life, aided no doubt by prevalent 
but not serious bilious disorders, developed in our 
Regiment a general tendency to homesickness and 
" hypo." To counteract it several attempts were 
made to initiate games and athletic exercises among 
the men, and the officers were requested to set an 
example to the men by organizing amusements 
among themselves — but it amounted to nothing, it 
seemed impossible to induce the men to amuse 

We kept no very careful note of time. One day 
was pretty much like every other. Sundays were 
noticeable only for the absence of drills and a little 
more stupidity. To go home was the height of any- 
body's ambition. 

Private Callahan, of K Companv, sought to be 
discharged for disability — the disability was beyond 
question, for he was born with it, and he was told 
by the Surgeon that he ought not to have accepted 
the bounty for enlistment ; that he " ought to be 
hung " for doing it, to which somewhat severe criti- 
cism the soldier retorted that he " would die first." 
It may not be necessary to state that Callahan was 
Irish. At Fredericksburg he lost a finger and ob- 
tained his coveted discharge. 

We were so long here that, as the season ad 
vanced, we began to construct defences against the 
weather, and the acting adjutant even dreamed of a 
log hut, with a real door and real hinges. The only 


artificer at his command was his negro servant, a 
man who could admire but could not comprehend 
long dictionary words. The Adjutant, directing the 
negro as to the construction of the door frame, told 
him certain parts were to be perpendicular, others 
horizontal, and others parallel ; but the black man's 
face showed no evidence of comprehension, until 
after a dozen different forms of the same instruction 
had been resorted to and the master's patience was 
exhausted, the idea penetrated the darkened mind of 
the servant, who turned upon the officer with the 
pertinent remark, " Why, massa, what 3^ou wants is 
ter have it truc^ ain't it?" 

New orders of architecture were rapidly devel- 
oped, and the manufacture of furniture became an 
extensive occupation. It was quite wonderful what 
results could be obtained in both of these industries 
by the use of barrels and hard-bread boxes. Of the 
barrels we made chimneys and chairs ; and of the 
boxes, tables, washstands, cupboards, and the walls 
and clapboards of our dwellings. 

We were really getting to be very comfortable in 
the latter days of October, 1862, when the orders 
began to intimate that we would not live always in 
that neighborhood. First, our Company C was de- 
tatched for a guard to the reserve artillery, where 
it served for ten months. Then, on the 30th, the 
whole army drew out like a great serpent, and 
moved away down the Potomac to Harper's Ferry, 
crossing the river there, then up on the Virginia side, 
and along the foot hills of the Blue Ridge. 


It was lively times again, and the march was 
rapid — often forced ; but the weather was cool and 
bracing, and the men were glad of the change. 
From the 2d to the 15th of November we were on 
the eastern slopes of the Ridge, and Lee's army in 
its western valley, racing each for the advantage 
over the other. 

At each gap there was a lively light for the con- 
trol of the pass, but we were always ahead, and 
possession is as many points in war as it is in law. 
Holding these passes, our movements could be, to a 
considerable extent, masked from the observation of 
the enem}-, while his were known to our General, 
whose object was to keep the army of the enemy 
strung out to the greatest possible length, and at a 
favorable moment to pounce upon its centre, divide 
and conquer it. 

With the sound of guns almost alwa3^s in our ears, 
we raced away through Snickersville, Middle- 
bury, White Plains, and New Baltimore to Warren- 
ton, with little to eat and plenty of exercise. Near 
White Plains, on the 8th, we marched all day in a 
snow-storm, and at night, splashed and chilled, 
bivouacked in a sprout field, making ourselves as 
comfortable as might be on three or four inches of 

Throughout this march the orders were very 
stringent against straggling and marauding. No 
allowance was made for transportation of regimental 
rations except the haversacks of the soldiers, and on 
the march in cold weather it is a poor (or good) 


soldier that does not eat three da3's' rations in two. 
Our changes of base left us often very short of sup- 
lies, and it was not in the most amiable mood that 
we came to our nightly camp. 

Acting-quartermaster Dana, hungering for flesh- 
pots, was tempted by the sight of a fat turkey on a 
barn-yard fence. The road was a by-way, and not 
a soul in sight. Before he could recall the tenor of 
the orders, he had covered the bird with his revolver, 
but at that moment General Butterheld, with his staft' 
and escort, following the abrupt turn of the road, 
came upon the quartermaster in the very act, and 
scared the bird, which flopped heavily down from 
the fence and disappeared. To the General's angry 
demand for an explanation, Dana quietly replied 
that he was about to shoot that " buzzard."' 

" Buzzard \" roared the General, "that was a tur- 
key, sir." ""Was it, indeed?" replied the innocent 
officer; "how fortunate. General, that you came as 
you did, for in two minutes more I should have shot 
him for a buzzard." Dana thought that, amid the 
laughter which succeeded, he heard the General 
describe him as an idiot, but he was not sufficiently 
certain about it to warrant charges against the Gen- 
eral for unofficer-like language. 

The hurried march from Sharpsburg to Warren- 
ton was fruitful in cases of marauding for court- 
martial trials, but these courts very generally refused 
to convict, on the ground that the men had been so 
ill-supplied from our commissariat, that some irregu- 
larity was excusable. 


One of our sergeants, a butcher by trade, stroll- 
ing about the woods, came upon a party of men 
who had captured and killed, and were about cut- 
ting up, a rebel pig. Shocked at the unskilful way 
in which they were operating, our sergeant volun- 
teered his advice and services, which were grate- 
fully accepted. In the midst of the operation the 
party was surprised by one of the brigade staff, 
and the non-commissioned officer, being tried by 
court-martial, was by its sentence reduced to the 
ranks and deprived of six months' pay. The story 
ends sadly, for his mortification from loss of rank, 
and possibly his anxiety from fear that his family 
might suffer from the loss of pay, caused him to 
droop and die. 

One of our men, returning from a private foraging 
expedition laden with a heavy leg of beef, was cap- 
tured by the provost guard, and, by order of Gen- 
eral Griffin, was kept all day "walking post," with 
the beef on his shoulder, in front of the head- 
quarters' tents. As the General passed his beat he 
would occasionally entertain him with some question 
as to the price of beef, or the state of the provision 
trade, and at retreat the man, ininus his beef, was 
sent down to his regiment " for proper punishment," 
which his commanding officer concluded that he had 
already received. 

Yet another soldier was sent to our headquarters 
by the Colonel of the Ninth Massachusetts, with 
the statement that he had been arrested for maraud- 
ing. Upon cross-examination of the culprit it 



appeared that he had been captured with a quarter 
of veal in his possession by the provost guard of 
the Ninth Regiment. A regimental provost guard 
was a novelty in the army, but when, on further 
questioning, it appeared that the offending soldier 
had been compelled to leave the veal at Colonel 
Guiney's quarters, the advantage of such an organiz- 
ation in hungry times to the headquarters' mess was 
apparent, and our Colonel at once ordered a provost 
guard to be detailed from the Thirty-second, with 
orders to capture marauders and turn over their ill- 
gotten plunder to his cook. Unhappily, within the 
next twenty-four hours, some high General, whose 
larder was growing lean, forbade regimental pro- 
vost guards in general orders. 

It was during our stay at Warrenton that General 
GrifRn requested the attendance of Colonel Parker 
and told him, not as an official communication, but 
for his personal information, that three officers of 
the Thirty-second had, during the previous night, 
taken and killed a sheep, the property of a farmer 
near by. Of course the Colonel expressed his re- 
gret at the occurrence, but he represented to 
the General that, inasmuch as the officers of our 
regiment were not generally men of abundant 
means, and inasmuch as they had received no pay 
from their Government for several months, and inas- 
much as it was forbidden them to obtain food by 
takincr it either from the rations of their men or the 
property of the enemy, he (the Colonel) would be 
glad to know how officers were to live? The 


General, utterly astonished at the state of affairs thus 
disclosed, asked in return for some suggestion to 
relieve the difficulty. The suggestion made that 
officers should be allowed to buy from the com- 
missaries on credit, was, at the request of General 
Griffin, embodied in a formal written communication 
to him, and by an order the next day from the 
headquarters of the army, it became a standing 
regulation until the end of the war. 

On the loth of November the Army of the Poto- 
mac was massed near Warrenton as if a general 
action was at hand, when everybody was surprised 
by the announcement of the removal of General 
McClellan from its command. It was a sad day 
among the camps. The troops turned out at nine 
o'clock, bordering the road, each regiment in 
doubled column, and General McClellan, followed 
by all the generals with their staffs, a cortege of a 
hundred or more mounted officers, rode through the 
lines, saluted and cheered continually. 

It happened -that the 3 2d was the first regiment 
to be reviewed. Being a regiment of soldiers, it 
was accustomed to salute its officers in a soldierly 
way, and on this occasion was, probably, the only 
battalion in the arm}- that did not cheer " Little 
Mac," but stood steadily, with arms presented, colors 
drooping, and drums beating. From the surprised 
expression on the General's face, it was evident that 
for a moment he feared that he had overrated the 
good-will of his troops. The incident, though really 
creditable to the Regiment, was considered as a 


slight to the General, and for a time was the cause 
of considerable feeling against the 32d. Even the 
politics of its commander could not prevent its being 
stigmatized as an "Abolition concern." 

At noon the officers of the Fifth corps were 
received by General McClellan, who shook hands 
with all, and at the close of the reception said, his 
voice broken with emotion: "Gentlemen, I hardly 
know how to bid you good-bye. We have been so 
long together that it is very hard. Whatever fate 
may await me I shall never be able to think of my- 
self except as belonging to the Army of the Poto- 
mac. For what you have done history will do you 
justice — this generation never will. I must say it. 
'Good-bye.'" And so the army parted from the 
tirst, the most trusted, and the ablest of its com- 



/^ENERAL BURNSIDE assumed the command 
^^ and we remained quiet for a week, tlien 
moved slowly away toward Falmouth and Fredricks- 
burg, where we arrived on the 2 2d of November, 
and encamped near Potomac Creek, at a place after- 
wards known as "Stoneman's Switch/' This camp 
was destined to be our home for nearly six months, 
but the popular prejudice against winter quarters 
was so great that we were never allowed to feel that 
it was more than a temporary camp. 

On several occasions we had suffered for want of 
supplies, generally not more than for a day or two, 
and when on the march ; but for ten days after our 
arrival near Fredericksburg, the whole army was on 
short allowance. Our base was supposed to be at 
Acquia Creek, but the railroad was not recon- 
structed and what supplies we got were wagoned up 
some miles from Belle Plain, over or through roads 
which were alternately boggy with mud, or rough 
with the frozen inequalities of what had been a miry 

Little by little the scarcity became more severe ; 
for a week there had been no meat-ration, nothing 



was issued except hard-bread, and on the morning 
of Thanksgiving Day, there was absolutely no food 
for the Regiment. The evening previous, one box 
of hard-bread, the last remainder of the supply ot 
the headquarters' mess was issued to the Regiment, 
giving one half of a cracker to each man, and this 
was gratefully received. 

That Thanskgiving Day dawned upon a famished 
and almost mutinous army. Rude signs were set 
up in the camp, such as "Camp Starvation," 
"Death's Headquarters," "Misery." Every General 
as he appeared, was hailed with cries for "hard- 
bread, hard-bread ! " and matters looked threatening. 
In the 32d there was no disturbance, but the men sat 
about with moody looks and faces wan with hunger. 
Officers had been despatched in every direction in 
search of food but, it was high noon before even hard- 
biscuit could be obtained. Then twenty boxes were 
procured by borrowing from the regular division, 
and they were brought to our camp from a distance of 
two miles, on the shoulders of our men. 

That morning the breakfast table of the field and 
staff mess, exhibited a small plate of fried hard- 
bread and another of beefsteak, obtained by incred- 
ible exertions of the Adjutant the day before, in 
order to do honor to the festival. One must be very 
hungry to know how sumptuous the repast appeared, 
but none of us could eat while the soldiers were 
starving, and the breakfast was sent to the hospital 

One man refused to do duty, declaring that the 
government had agreed to pay, clothe, and feed him, 


and having left him penniless, ragged, and starving 
with cold and hunger, he could not be expected to 
keep his part of the contract. With this one excep- 
tion the bearing of our men was superb, and was 
in remarkable contrast with that of the army in 

At the company roll call at "retreat," the soldier just 
referred to, who had been in confinement all day, 
was marched through the camp under guard, and 
made to face each company in succession, while a 
regimental order was read acknowledging and 
thanking the men for their good behavior under try- 
ing circumstances, and closing with the declaration 
that "if on this day of Thanksgiving we have failed 
to enjoy the abundance which has usually marked 
the festival, we have at least one reason for thank- 
fulness and that is, that when all of us were hungry 
there was only one man who desired to shirk his 
duty, leaving it to be done by his equally-hungry 

comrades, and that the name of that man was . 

Notsvithstanding the repeated declarations that 
there would be no winter quarters short of Rich- 
mond, the army proceeded to make itself as com- 
fortable as possible. The woods melted rapidly to 
supply the great camp-fires, now needed for warmth 
as well as cooking ; and the soldiers, organizing 
themselves into messes, built shelters more satisfac- 
tory than the canvas which was provided for that 

Great variety of ingenuity was exhibited in the 
construction of these quarters. A few were content 


with an excavation in the ground, over which would 
be pitched a rooting of tent cloth ; but some of 
the quarters rose almost to the dignity of cottages, 
having walls of logs, the interstices closed by a 
plastering of clay, and roofs of rough-hewn slabs, 
or thatched with branches of pine. Windows were 
covered by canvas, and chimneys were built up cob 
fashion and plastered inside, and comfortable tires 
blazed upon the hearths. 

About the headquarters of the generals were 
enclosing fences of sapling pines set into the ground 
upright, and held firmly in that position. Within 
the enclosures were grouped the tents of the gen- 
eral, his staff, and their servants, some of them 
having outer walls of boards enclosing the sides 
of their wall tents. 

The weather was of a variety indescribable, 
except as Virginia weather — alternating periods 
of cold so severe as to freeze men on picket duty, 
and so warm as to make overcoats an insupportable 
burden. The rains made the earth everywhere 
miry, then it would freeze the uneven mud to the 
hardness of stone, then a thaw made everything 
mud and all travel impossible, and presently dry 
winds would convert all into dust and blow about in 

One of the wonders of these times was the army 
cough ; what with the smoke of the camp fires, the 
dust of the country, and the effect of the variable 
weather upon people living out of doors, there was 
a general tendency to bronchial irritations, which 


would break out into coujjhino- when the men first 
awoke, and it is almost a literal fact, that when one 
hundred thousand men began to stir at reveille, the 
sound of their coughing would drown that of the 
beating drums. 

Here for three weeks in preparation for another 
movement "on to Richmond," we drilled, were 
inspected and reviewed — relieving these severer 
duties by chopping, hauling, and burning wood. 

Those of us who had the opportunity, occasionally 
went over toward the river, where from the high 
lands we could watch the Confederate lines, and look 
on to see them getting the opposite heights good and 
strong in readiness for our attack. 

On the loth of December, the orders began to 
read as if they really meant fight, and the great 
point of interest in our discussions was as to the 
direction of the next movement — whether we were 
to flank Lee by way of the fords of the Rappahan- 
nock as was generally believed, or whether, as some 
said, we were to embark for Harrison's Landing or 
City Point, and flank Richmond itself. 

No voice was heard to intimate that any such con- 
summate folly could be intended as to attack squareh* 
in face those defenses which we had apparently been 
quite willing to allow our enem}^ to construct, and 
for weeks most deliberately to strengthen. But such 
was indeed the forlorn hope imposed upon the Army 
of the Potomac. 

December nth, 1862. — Reveille sounded at 3 
A. M. The morning was cool and frosty, the ground 


frozen, the air perfectly still — so still and of such 
barometrical condition that the smoke of the camp- 
fires did not rise to any considerable height, and was 
not wafted away, but murked the whole country 
with its haze, through which objects when visible 
looked distorted and ghostly, and the bugles sound- 
ing the assembly had a strange and impressive tone. 

The first break of day found the brigade formed 
for the march. The troops wore their overcoats, 
and outside of them were strapped knapsacks, hav- 
ersacks, cartridge-boxes, and cap-pouches, all filled 
to their utmost capacity ; and in rolls worn sash-like 
over one shoulder and under the other, were their 
blankets and the canvas of their tentes d'arbi'i. 

The dull boom of two guns from the westward 
was evidently a signal, and the bugle sounded 
" forward." That day it was the turn of our Regi- 
ment to lead the Brigade, and of our Brigade to lead 
the Corps, and we were at once en rotUc in the 
direction of Fredericksburg, which was three miles 
away. Soon after the march began the sun rose, 
showing at first only its huge, dull-red disk, but 
soon rising above the haze, throwing its bright 
beams athwart the landscape, making it and us 
cheery with their warmth and shine. With the sun- 
rise came a gentle movement of the air, pushing 
away the smoke from the uplands, but leaving the 
river valley thick with fog. Midway between our 
camp and the river we crossed the summit of a 
round-topped hill, from which, by reason of the 
sweep of the river, we could see for a distance the 


rolling lands of Stafford Heights, which on its left 
bank form the immediate valley of the Rappahan- 
nock, and over all these hills, now glowing in the 
sunlight, were moving in columns of fours, converg- 
ing, apparently, toward a common centre, the vari- 
ous corps and divisions of the Army of the Potomac, 
more than a hundred thousand men. 

Across the river could be seen, but not as yet 
distinctly, the fortified line of hills occupied by Lee's 
Army of Virginia. Between us and them, the river 
and the river bottoms on the farther side, with all 
of the town of Fredericksburg except the church 
spires and the cupola of its Court House, w^ere 
shrouded in vapor. 

General Burnside had established headquarters in 
the Phillips house, a fine brick mansion overlooking 
the valley and the town, and our grand division was 
massed near by in a large field of almost level land, 
entirely bare of tree or shade, and here we passed 
the whole day under a warm December sun, which 
softened the ground into mud, glared in our eyes, 
and baked our unprotected heads. 

Before w^e reached this spot the dogs of war were 
in full cry. Down by the river side there were fre- 
quent sputterings of musketry, and the hills on 
either side of the river were roaring with the sound 
of the great guns from their earth-work batteries. 

About the Phillips house, on its piazza and in its 
rooms, there were gatherings of general and field 
officers, discussing with more or less warmth the 
situation and the probabilities. Occasionally a 


mounted officer or orderly would come dashing up 
from the river side, looking hot and anxious, and 
after delivering or receiving reports or orders, would 
hasten down again to his station ; but, on the whole, 
things were very deliberately done. 

When the fog lifted, below us, and directly on our 
bank of the stream, could be seen the hospitable- 
looking Lacy house with its low wings, under the 
lee of which, sheltered from the tire of the enemy, 
were groups of officers, their horses picketed in the 
dooryard. On the opposite side of the river, its 
houses coming close down to high-water mark, lay 
the compactly built town of Fredericksburg ; beyond 
it a space of level land, narrowing at the upper end 
of the town to nothing, but opening below into a 
wide plain, which, so far as we could see, was 
everywhere bounded to the west by a rise of land 
more or less abrupt, forming the lip of the valley 
there. This rising land terminated just above the 
town, in a blutf at the river bank. 

The right and centre grand divisions of Burn- 
side's army occupied the heights on the eastern side 
of the river. Lee's forces were entrenched in those 
on the western side. Between them, the River 
Rappahannock and the city of Fredericksburg. 

The left grand division, under Franklin, one or 
two miles down the river, before lo o'clock had laid 
pontoon bridges and secured a foot-hold on the 
opposite shore. Between him and the enemy was a 
nearly open plain, the extent of which, from the 
river to the rising ground, was more than a mile. 


On our left everything had gone smoothly and well ; 
all opposition to the crossing had been easily over- 
come, but in the immediate front of the town it was 
quite another story. 

At early dawn the engineers were ready and 
began to lay the pontoon bridges opposite the town. 
A dozen or more of the boats had been moored into 
position, and men were actively at work laying 
plank across, when Barksdale's Mississippians 
opened tire and drove the Union men to cover. 
Calling up a brigade of Hancock's men to cover the 
work, repeated attempts were made to bridge the 
river, but the Confederates occupying the houses on 
their bank could tire from windows without beinu 
seen themselves, and the endeavors of the engineers, 
although gallantly made, were unsuccessful. 

Then followed a long consultation at headquar- 
ters, which resulted in an order to concentrate the 
fire of our' artillery on Fredericksburg, and for an 
hour or more a hundred and fifty guns played on 
the town. Fires broke out in several places and 
raged without restraint. During and after the can- 
nonade our troops essayed again and again to moor 
the boats and lay the bridge, but the fire of the en- 
emy, although reduced, was yet too fierce, and at 
last, about four, P. M., two or three of the boats 
of the pontoon train w^ere loaded with volunteers 
and pushed across the river at a bend above the 
buildings, the rebels were flanked and driven from 
their shelter, and the bridge was speedily con- 


To US, three-quarters of a mile away, the delay 
finally became irksome and the Colonel and Major, 
moved by curiosity, rode down to the river. The 
Rappahannock here lies deep between its banks and 
they rode to the edge of the bluff, peering over, up 
and down the stream, to see what might be seen. 
The firing for the time had ceased, and all seemed 
quiet except the crackling flames of the burning 
buildings. The gunners of the two-gun battery 
close by were chatting, leaning lazily against the 
gun-carriages. Below, the river, waiting the turn 
of the tide to flood, was still and smooth. Opposite, 
the warehouses, thrusting their unhandsome walls 
down to the line of tidal mud, seemed utterly desert- 
ed ; two or three of them were yet burning, a few 
were badly battered, but on the whole the storm of 
shot and shell had done wonderfully little harm. 

A rifle ball, passing between the two officers, 
singing as it went, reminded them that everything 
was not as peaceful as it seemed, and they turned 
away just as the battery joined the renewed bom- 
bardment to cover the forlorn hope in their boat 

That night we bivouacked in a neighboring wood, 
where we remained also the next da}' and night, 
while Franklin on one side of us, and Sumner on 
the other, were crossing and deploying their com- 
mands below and in the town, covered for the 
greater part of the day by a dense fog which allowed 
neither the enemy nor us to see much of the move- 


General Burnside would seem to have had an idea 
that he could push his army across the river, attack 
Lee's army and win the heights, before Jackson, 
from his position eighteen miles below, could come 
to aid his chief. This possibly might have been 
done by flanking, if he had been content to cross 
the Rappahannock where Franklin, at 9 o'clock on 
the nth, had succeeded in establishing his bridges ; 
but before the upper pontoon bridges could be laid, 
the rebel right wing, under Jackson, had effected its 
junction with the lines of Longstreet, and Lee's army 
was again united. 

December 13th, 1862, — the day of the battle of 
Fredericksburg, — opened clear and bright, except 
that over the lowlands bordering the river was 
stretched a veil of vapor which laid there until 9 
o'clock. The grand divisions of Sumner and Frank- 
lin were over the river and ready for battle — Sumner 
in the streets of Fredericksburg, which ran parallel 
to the river, and Franklin in the open plain below 
the town. Our (Hooker's) grand division yet occu- 
pied the heights on the eastern side of the Rap- 
pahannock, from which — except for the fog — could 
be seen the slightly undulating plain, which was to 
be Franklin's held of battle, but from which the 
greater part of Sumner's field was hidden by the 
town itself. 

The letter A may be used to demonstrate the 
topography of the battle. The left limb of that 
letter may represent the line of higher land occupied 
by the Confederates, the right limb the line of the 


Rappahannock river, and the cross-bar the course 
of a sunken creek which separated the lines of 
Sumner's troops from those of Franklin, but which 
offered no advantage to our troops, and no impedi- 
ment to the fire of either of the combatants. Below 
the cross-bar of the A, the space between the limbs 
may have averaged two-thirds of a mile in width, 
over which Franklin's men must advance to the 
attack, almost constantly exposed to the fire from 
the batteries of the rebels, and for at least half the 
way to that from the rifles of their infantry. Within 
the triangle — the upper portion of the A — was in- 
cluded the city of Fredericksburg and Sumner's 
accldania, and here the lines of the enemy were 
strengthened by earthworks on the summit of the 
heights, (not fifty feet above the level of the plain), 
and by stone walls and rifle pits along their base. 
Here the space between the foremost rebel line, and 
the nearest blocks of houses in the town was nowhere 
two thousand feet, and within this narrow space, 
under the fire of a mile of batteries, and at least 
ten thousand rifles, the Union lines must be formed 
for the attack. 

What we saw of Franklin's battle was what hap- 
pened before noon, and after 9 o'clock, — at which 
latter hour the fog disappeared, revealing to us and 
to the enemy the advancing line of Meade's division, 
to us a moving strip of blue on the dun-colored plain. 
We saw it halt, covered no doubt by some undula- 
tion of the land, while a battery on the left was 
silenced by the Union guns — then the line moved 


on, fringed sometimes with the smoke of its own 
volleys, at other times with the silver-like sheen of 
the rifle barrels. We saw the smoke of the rebel 
rifles burst from the woods that covered the first 
rise of ground — saw Meade's line disappear in the 
woods, followed by at least one other line, — then 
our bugles called " attention ! forward ! " and we 
saw no more of Franklin's fight. 

Early in the morning two of Hooker's divisions 
had been sent to strengthen Franklin, and now 
tv\'^o others, Humphrey's and Griflins' (ours) were 
ordered to the support of Sumner. A new boat- 
bridge had been laid, crossing the river at the lower 
part of the town, just below the naked piers of what 
had been and is now the railroad bridge, and just 
above the outlet of a small stream. The two divi- 
sions were massed on the hill-side near this bridge — 
an attractive mark for the rebel cannoneers, who how- 
ever, having food for powder close at hand, spared 
to us only occasionally a shell. The crossing must 
have occupied an hour. Down the steep hill-side 
and the steeper bank ; over the river and toiling up 
the western side ; with many waits and hitches — the 
serpent-like column moved tediously along. Once 
up the bank, and the rifle balls whistled about us 
and our casualties began ; but we wound our way, 
bearing a little to the left, through the lower portion 
of the town, where the buildings were detached 
and open lots were frequent, availing ourselves of 
such cover as could be used, until in a vacant 
hollow each regiment as it came up was halted to 



leave its knapsacks and blankets. These were 
bestowed in heaps, and the men and boys of the 
drum-corps were left to guard them. Here too, 
by order of the Colonel, the field and staff officers 
dismounted, leaving their horses in charge of ser- 
vants. Then in fighting trim we moved forward past 
the last buildings, out upon the field of battle. Here 
was still between us and the enemy a swell of land, 
six or eight feet in its greatest height, affording some 
slight protection, and we trailed our arms to conceal 
our presence from the enemy. 

The confusing roar of the battle was all about us. 
Our own batteries of heavy guns from Stafford 
Heights were firing over us — a few of our field 
pieces were in action near by. The rebel guns all 
along their line were actively at work — their shells 
exploded all around us, or crashed into the walls of 
neighboring buildings, dropping fragments at every 
crash ; whatever room there might have been in the 
atmosphere for other noise, was filled by the rattle 
of musketry and the shouts of men. 

No words can fully convey to a reader's mind the 
confusion which exists when one is near enough to 
see and know the details of battle. One reads with 
interest in the reports of the generals, the letters of 
newspaper correspondents, or in the later histories 
constructed from those sources, a clear story of 
what was done ; of formations and movements as if 
they were those of the parade ; of attack and 
repulse — so graphically and carefully described as 
to leave clear pictures in one's mind. But it may be 


doubted whether one who was actively engaged, and 
in the thick of the fight, can correctly describe that 
which occurred about him, or tell with any degree 
of accuracy the order of events or the time 

The reports of the battle of Fredericksburg 
describe occurrences that never happened, move- 
ments that were never made, incidents that were 
impossible. " History" tells how six brigades formed 
for attack on our right, in column of brigades, with 
intervals of two hundred paces — where no such form- 
ation was possible, and no such space existed. And 
at least one general (Meagher), in his reports must 
have depended much upon imagination for the facts 
so glowingly described. 

To the memory now comes a strange jumble of 
snch situations and occurrences as do not appear in 
the battles of history or of fiction. Of our Regiment 
separated from the rest of the brigade, getting into 
such positions that it was equally a matter of wonder 
that we should ever have gone there, or having 
gone should ever have escaped alive — of rejoin- 
ing the division, where, one behind the other and 
close together in the railroad cut, were three 
brigades waiting the order for attack. 

We recall the terrific accession to the roar of bat- 
tle with which the enemy welcomed each brigade 
before us as it left the cover of the cut, and with 
which at last it welcomed us. We remember the 
rush across that open field where, in ten minutes, 
every tenth man was killed or wounded, and where 


Marshall Davis, carrying the flag, was, for those 
minutes, the fastest traveller in the line ; and the 
Colonel wondering, calls to mind the fact that he 
saw men in the midst of the severest fire, stoop 
to pick the leaves of cabbages as they swept along. 

We remember how, coming up with the 626. Penn- 
sylvania of our brigade, their ammunition exhausted 
and the men lying flat on the earth for protection, 
our men, proudly disdaining cover, stood every man 
erect and with steady file-firing kept the rebels down 
behind the cover of their stone wall, and held the 
position until nightfall. And it was a pleasant con- 
sequence to this that the men of the gallant 62d, who 
had before been almost foes, were ever after our fast 

Night closed upon a bloody field. A battle of 
which there seems to have been no plan, had been 
fought with no strategic result. The line of the 
rebel infantry at the stone wall in our front was pre- 
cisely where it was in the morning. We were not 
forty yards from it, shielded only by a slight roll of the 
land from the fire of their riflemen, and so close to 
their batteries on the higher land that the guns could 
not be depressed to bear on us. At night our pick- 
ets were within ten yards of the enemy. 

Here we passed the night, sleeping, if at all, in 
the mud, and literally on our arms. Happily for all, 
and especially for the wounded, the night was 
warm. In the night our supply of ammunition was 
replenished, and toward morning orders were re- 
ceived not to recommence the action. 


The next day, a bright and beautiful Sunday, 
there was comparative quiet along the lines, but to 
prevent the enemy from trees or houses or from van- 
tage spots of higher land bringing to bear upon our 
line the rifles of their sharp-shooters, required con- 
stant watchfulness and an almost constant dropping 
fire from our side. 

Several attempts were made to communicate with 
us from the town, but every such endeavor drew a 
withering fire from the enemy. None of us could 
stand erect without drawing a hail of rifle balls. A 
single field-piece from the corner of two streets in 
the city exchanged a few shots over our heads with 
one of the batteries on the heights, but soon got the 
worst of it and retired. 

Sergeant Spalding, in a printed description of this 
day, says : " It was impossible for the men in our 
brigade to obtain water without crossing the plain 
below us, which was a hazardous thing to attempt 
to do, as he who ventured was sure to draw the 
enemy's fire ; nevertheless, it was not an uncommon 
thing to see a comrade take a lot of canteens and 
run the gauntlet. Seldom w^ere they hit, but in a 
few instances we saw them fall, pierced by the rebel 

" I remember seeing a soldier approaching us 
from the city, with knapsack on his back and gun 
on his shoulder. I watched him with special interest 
as he advanced, knowing that he was liable to be 
fired upon as soon as he came within range of the 
enemy's rifles. He came deliberately along, climbed 


over the fence, and was coming directly towards 
where we lay, when crack went a rifle and down 
went the man — killed, as we supposed, for he lay 
perfectly still. But not so, he was only playing 
possum. Doubtless he thought that by feigning to 
be dead for a few moments he would escape the 
notice of the enemy. So it proved, for unexpect- 
edly to us, and I doubt not to the man who shot him 
(as he supposed), he sprang to his feet and reached 
the cover of the hill before another shot was fired." 

The day wore away and the night came again, 
and we, relieved by other troops, returned to refresh 
ourselves by sleeping on the wet sidewalks of one 
of the city streets. 

The next day three lines of infantry were massed 
in this street, which ran parallel to the river, but the 
day passed without any renewal of the battle. It 
was not pleasant, looking down the long street so full 
of soldiers, to think what might happen if the rebel 
guns, less than a thousand yards away, should open 
on the town — but it was none of our business. As 
it came on to storm at nightfall we took military 
possession of a block of stores, and the men, for the 
first time for many months, slept under the cover of 
a roof. It was a fearfully windy night, and whether 
it was the wind, or anxiety about the situation, the 
Colonel could not sleep. His horses were kept in 
the street conveniently at hand, and once or twice 
he rode out to the front and heard Captain Martin 
objurgating the General for his orders to entrench 
his battery with one pick and one shovel. 


About 3 A. M. came an orderly seeking the com- 
mander of the brigade, whom nobody had seen for 
the past two days. The Colonel was inclined to be 
gruff until he learned that the orders were to move 
the brigade back over the river ; then, indeed, he 
was sprightly. Declaring himself the ranking officer 
of the brigade, he receipted for the order and, send- 
ing his orders to the other regiments, began to retire 
the brigade to the easterl3^bank, and thence ordered 
the regiments to their old camps at Stoneman's 
Switch, where the real brigadier found them soon 
after dawn. 

At 8 A. M. Burnside had withdrawn his entire 
army and taken up his bridges. The storm was 
over, but again the fog filled the low lands. As it 
cleared away, some of us, from the piazza of the 
Phillips House, saw the rebel skirmishers cautiously 
creeping toward the town, and it was not long before 
the shouts from their lines told that the evacuation 
was discovered. In the battle of Fredericksburg 
the 32d lost thirty-five killed and wounded. Among 
the killed was Captain Charles A. Dearborn, Jr. 


T XZITH the close of the year 1862, Colonel Parker 
resigned the command, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Prescott was promoted to the Colonelcy ; Major 
Stephenson was made Lieutenant Colonel, and 
Captain Edmunds, Major. 

A vacancy occurred also in the medical staff', by 
the resignation of Assistant Surgeon Bigelow, and 
an elderly, but ver}^ respectable M. D. was gazetted 
in his place. It happened that the new doctor 
reported for duty on the eve of a movement of the 
corps. He had no horse ; said he had left his 
trunk at "the depot," meaning by the roadside, at 
Stoneman's Switch, and when told that he must 
march with the Regiment next day he undertook to 
hire a buggy. The young gentlemen of the Regi- 
ment kept him floundering about for a good part of 
the night in search of an imaginary livery stable, 
and even sent him up to division headquarters to 
borrow the General's barouche. One day's expe- 
rience was enough for him, and the next morning 
he declined to be mustered in and went back — he 
and his trunk — to the more congenial white set- 



After the disastrous attempt upon the heights of 
Fredericksburg, the Regiment had remained in 
their old camping-ground near Stoneman's Switch, 
in the neighborhood of Fahnouth. Excepting the 
reconnoissance to Morrisville and skirmish there, 
with that terrible march on the return when our 
brigadier, Schweitzer, led his "greyhounds," as he 
termed them, at such a terrific pace for twenty-five 
or thirty miles, nothing occurred to break the 
monotony of camp life. The night of the 31st De- 
cember, 1862 — that of the march above alluded to — 
was extremely cold, and the men, in light marching 
order, without knapsacks or necessary blankets, 
compelled to fall out from inability to keep the 
pace, suflered terribly from exposure, and many 
lost their lives in consequence. 

For two months, or since November 2 2d, 1862, 
we had been comfortably encamped (including the 
episodes of the battle of Fredericksburg, and the 
march and skirmish of Morrisville above-mentioned) 
near Stoneman's Switch — two months ! which seemed 
so near an age, a cycle, or an eternity of time in 
the Arm}^ of the Potomac in those days, that we had 
prepared ourselves as if to remain forever. Our 
tents were converted into comfortable huts, with 
wide chimnef}^s and wooden floors ; we had tables 
and camp-chairs and bedsteads and looking- 
glasses — all rather rudely constructed, perhaps, but 
to our minds luxurious to a degree unprecedented. 
When, however, we got marching orders, every 
man seemed to vie with his neighbor in displaying 


his contempt for all this effeminacy, and his readi- 
ness to quit these " piping times of peace," by 
destroying all his possessions that savored of luxury, 
and throwing away whatever could not be carried in 
knapsack or saddle-pack. 

Adjutant Cobb was a sound sleeper. He did not 
average to sleep so long, perhaps, as many others, 
but he would owl over his work or his letters night 
after night, and then, when the conditions were 
favorable, would do such solid sleeping for one night 
as would bring him out even. At such times it 
seemed absolutely impossible to awaken him ; no 
quantity of shaking would make any impression, 
and it was necessary to let him have it out. 

Somewhere about midnight, before January 21st, 
an orderly came with a written order, found the 
adjutant sleeping in his tent, and did his best to 
waken him, but without effect. Finally he thrust the 
order into Cobb's hand, closed the lingers over it, 
and went his way. Before daylight the adjutant was 
wakened by the beating drums, and found the paper 
in his hand. Rising, he struck a light, read the 
paper and found that it was an order for the Regi- 
ment to march at 3 A. M. It was then half-past 
two, and an hour and a half is the shortest time in 
which a command can get breakfast and make need- 
ful preparations for the route. 

Matters were hurried up pretty lively, and inas- 
much as there was the usual delay in starting, the 
Regiment manaored to come to time. 

We did not move until four. Meantime the work 
of destruction went on, even to making bonfires of 


all comforts and luxuries in wood, around which 
the men warmed themselves and laughed and 
sung. Even tent-cloths and cast-ofT clothing were 
destroyed. Nothing was to be left that would com- 
fort Johnny Reb. But even before we moved off, 
some of us began to regret our comfortable home ; 
for a bitter cold north-east wind blew fiercely, and the 
air was full of snow and sleet, which gradually 
grew to rain. We moved at first pretty fast, and 
then the pace grew slower, slower, slowest, with 
frequent halts, until after dark, when we drew off 
the road and bivouacked for the night. The rain 
continued for some time, and it was exceedingly 
chilly, and by no means an agreeable opportunity for 
sleep. The men made fires among the trees, and 
sat around them nearly all night. As morning rose 
the wind changed, the rain ceased and when we 
resumed our march at about eight o'clock the air 
was soft, bland, and beautiful, like a day in April or 
May. Heavy, lead-colored clouds, however, hung 
low over everything, the air was thick with mist, 
and vaporous masses of steam lay upon the fields 
and woods. The snow had disappeared, and the 
frost was coming out of the ground, and lay in pools 
and puddles, and finally, in lakes and rivers of 
water, over roads and low-lying fields in every direc- 
tion. Soon it began raining again, first a drizzle and 
then a steady pour, and the thermometer rose and 
rose and rose again, to fifty, seventy, and eighty 
degrees, every object in the landscape began to 
exhale steam. Men and horses and mules and 


wagons, every bush and blade of grass, gave it 
forth in clouds and masses. There was a glow 
everywhere as of early dawn, and a dank, earthy 
smell pervaded the air. The wagons and trains, 
and everything that went on wheels or by horse- 
flesh, abandoned the roads and took to the fields. 
Deeper grew the mud and deeper the water over 
the mud. Still the moving masses of men pushed 
on, jumping from hummock to stump, sinking 
in up to the thighs and being dragged out half 
drowned, struggling through dense thickets rather 
than try the road, and everything and everybody 
draggled and splashed and 3'ellow with mud; there 
had been something very much like this in the 
march up the Peninsula under McClellan, in the 
trenches and corduroys about Yorktown, and we did 
not expect to give it up. But at last we came to a 
dead standstill. We were in a narrow wood-road 
and had passed several teams of a wagon train com- 
pletely mired, and apparently sinking deeper and 
deeper, mules singing their peculiar lay with little 
above the mud but their ears, when we were halted 
where the road made a sudden turn and descent, and 
for the present at least, all further progress was 
impossible. Our entire day's march was onl}^ three 

The narrow road appeared to be blocked, wagons 
were upset apparently one upon another, while men 
and horses were floundering about in most dire con- 
fusion. In a very short time we made our way out 
of this scene of disorder, and to the great relief of 


all who progressed by horse-flesh, halted to wait a 
more agreeable season. Then again did we regret 
the comfortable quarters we had left. 

It was dreadful to think of camping where we were, 
worse to undertake to go back again, or forward or 
anywhere. The whole country in all directions 
appeared to be under water. The trees stood up as 
if in a vast bog or swamp. At the first step off' from 
a root or stump you sank so deep as to make you 
catch your breath, and you were lucky if, in extract- 
ing yourself, you did not leave behind both boots 
and stockings. Virginia mud is a clay of reddish 
color and sticky consistence, which does not appear 
to soak water, or mingle with it, but simply to hold 
it, becoming softer and softer, and parting with the 
water wholly by evaporation. It was difficult to 
stand; to sit or lie down, except in the sticky mud, 
was impossible. Everything was so drenched with 
water that it was difficult to make fires. The warm, 
moist atmosphere imparted a feeling of weariness 
and lassitude, and in short our condition was 
disgusting. Wet through, stuck-in-the-mud, we 
dragged out the night. 

The next day, January 23d, was bright, mild, and 
beautiful, at least as far as sun and air went. A 
gentle breeze began to dry up the ground, and the 
whole brigade was set at work to corduroy roads. 
The method pursued by our own men was peculiar. 
They were marched across the field and brought 
into single line before a Virginia fence. Every man 
then pulled out a rail, shouldered it, and in single 


file the Regiment marched to the place to be cordu- 
royed, where each dropped his rail as he came up. 

The next day we returned to our camp at Stone- 
man's Switch, which looked on the whole about as 
comfortable and home-like as the inside of a very 
mouldy Stilton cheese. In an incredibly short space 
of time however, everything resumed its accustomed 
air of neatness and quasi-comfort. The next Sun- 
day-morning inspection showed not a trace of the 
mud in which the Regiment with the rest of the 
army had been nearly smothered. 

Youthful readers of Lovers' romances are apt 
to jump at the conclusion that "a soldier's life is 
always gay," or at least that gaiety is its normal 
condition. Youthful patriots in our war time 
yearned for active service, and saw themselves in 
dreams successfully storming forts, capturing batter- 
ies, charging and driving rebel hordes. Always in 
their dreams there was floating over them the flag 
of their country, (a bright new one) — always drums 
were beating and bands were playing ; and, if the 
dream was dreamed out to the end, the great trans- 
formation-scene at the close, displayed the dreamer in 
elegant uniform, crowned by the genius of victor}', 
while the people of the whole nation joined in 
shouts of approbation. 

As they approached the field of glory the halo 
faded, and often upon the field itself it was not at 
all manifest to the eye. A disordered liver turned 
the gold to green, and the arm which by the dream 
was to have been waving a flashing sword in the front 


part of battle, was more frequently wielding a dull 
axe in the woods, or a spade in the open ground. 
Many thought that their patriotism had evaporated, 
but it was only the romantic aureola that was gone. 

Among the first volunteers to join our Newton 
Company was the Reverend William L. Gilman, a 
minister of the Universalist denomination. To us 
he was Corporal Gilman of Company K, doing his 
duty as a non-commissioned officer quietly and 
well. On the loth of December, 1862, the Colonel 
was in the dumps. He had been for two months 
wrestling with the medical authorities of the corps, 
and the medical authorities had near about killed 
him. Upon the eve of a movement and a battle, 
they refused permission to send our sick to hospital, 
and ordered our surgeons to follow the movement. 
More than twenty men were very sick in our hospi- 
tal tent, and the steward objected to the heavy load 
which would fall to him if he were left alone in 

At this juncture appeared Corporal Gilman with 
a sad countenance, and told how disappointed he 
was to find that his services seemed to be of no 
value, and to ask if some position could not be found 
in which he might have the satisfaction of feeling 
that he was of use to somebody. A brief consulta- 
tion with the Surgeon told the Colonel that the cor- 
poral was in no state for marching or fighting, that 
his despondency was the effect of a disordered liver, 
and thereupon he was detailed to the military com- 
mand of the patients in hospital, and before the 


regiment left he was fully instructed as to the duty 
required of him. To Corporal Oilman's activity 
during the five days of our absence, is due a large 
share of the credit of saving the lives of those 
entrusted to his care. Shamefully neglected by the 
division surgeon who promised to visit them, and 
who even falsely said that he had visited them, 
these sick men would have died of starvation but for 
the unwearying devotion of their two non-commis- 
sioned officers ; and when the regiment returned. 
Oilman himself was well, and had recovered that 
cheeriness which was his natural temper, and which 
never afterward deserted him, even when mangled 
and dying on the field of Oettysburg. 

But after all there was some foundation for those 
youthful views. There were men who could stand 
up against their own livers, and there were times of 
general jollity. 

Making a neighborly call at the headquarters of 
an Irish regiment, our Adjutant found there quite a 
number of officers, the greater number of them sit- 
ting or reclining on the ground, which formed the 
tent floor, among them Captain Hart, A. A. Oeneral 
of the Irish Brigade. 

Of course the canteen was at once produced, and a 
single glass which was to go the rounds with the can- 
teen. The whiskey was of the "ragged edge "variety, 
from the commissary stores, and it required a stout 
throat to drink it half-and-half with water ; but 
when our adjutant, to whom by reason of infirmity 
of the lungs whiskey was like milk, filled the little 


glass with clear spirit and tossed it down his throat, 
there was a murmur of admiring surprise which 
tbund expression in Hart's reverent look and in his 
exclamation, " Oh, sir ! you ought to belong to the 
Irish Brigade, for it's a beautiful swallow you have !" 

But the Irish had no monopoly of light-hearted 
soldiers. Dana of " ours " was to the battalion what 
Tupper says a babe is to the household — a well- 
spring of joy. Full of healthy life and spirits, he 
bubbled over with jokes and pranks and mirth, and 
while no story of the 32d could be complete without 
some stories of him, no one book could suffice to 
contain them all. 

Sent out with a party to corduroy a road, he 
annovmced himself at the farm house near by as 
General Burnside, and demanded quarters, got them, 
and fared sumptuously. 

Detailed as acting quartermaster he kept no 
accounts, and how he settled with his department no 
man knoweth to this day. The demand of the 
ordnance department for property returns, although 
frequently repeated, were quietly ignored, until the 
chief wrote to him : " Having no replies to my 
repeated demands for your accounts, I have this day 
addressed a communication to the 2d Auditor of the 
Treasury, requesting him to withhold farther pay- 
ments to you." To which D. at once replied : 
" Dear Sir, — Yours of the — th is received. What 
did the 2d Auditor say ?" 

A representative of the Christian Commission in 
clerical dress and stove-pipe hat was distributing 



lemons to the bilious soldiers, but refused to give or 
sell one to Dana, who thereupon proposed to arrest 
him as a deserter from our army or a spy of the 
enemy's ; and when the gentleman asserted that he 
was enlisted only in " the army of the Lord " — 
" Well, you've straggled a good ways from that," 
was the surly rejoinder. 

Sergeant Hyde of K Company was a Yankee 
given to the invention of labor-saving contrivances, 
and was not fond of walking two miles under a big 
log, which was then the ordinary process of obtain- 
ing fire-wood. He thought that he might get his 
fuel with less labor, from the generous pile which 
always flanked the surgeon's tent. Getting one of 
his comrades, in the darkness of night, to draw oft' 
the attention of the headquarters' negro servants, 
Hyde secured a boss log and escaped with it to his 
hut, and there, with the aid of a newly-issued 
hatchet, proceeded to demolish his log beyond the 
possibility of recognition. 

Unfortunately for Hyde, the sharp hatchet glanced 
oft' the log and cut an ugly gash in his leg — a serious 
wound, which made it necessary to call on the sur- 
geon and break his rest. The doctor was kind and 
sympathizing beyond his wont, and very curious to 
learn all about the accident, but to this day the ser- 
geant believes that if that doctor had known all the 
particulars, the treatment might not have been so 

Whenever the army was idle for a time, ofticers 
were apt to be prolific in written communications, 


recommendations, and endorsements, and these were 
not always merely dry routine. The officer of the 
guard who knew more about tactics than any 
other learning, one day on his report wrote a 
suggestion that "sum spaids and piles" be provided 
for the use of the guard. This passing as usual 
through the hands of the officer-of-the-day, who 
knew more about books than tactics, he added over 
his official signature, "approved all but the spell- 

A. Q^. M. Hoyt having in a written communica- 
tion to the General of the division called attention 
to the fact that the division quartermaster was using 
an ambulance and horses for his own private occa- 
sions in violation of an order of the War Depart- 
ment, was by endorsement directed to "attend to his 
own duty," whereupon he sent the same paper to the 
Adjutant General at Washington, with this addi- 
tional endorsement, "In compliance with the above 

order of Gen. the attention of the War 

Department is called to the case within described." 
The ambulance had to go. 

It was in one of these prolonged waiting seasons 
that the assistant surgeon with great exertion at all 
of the headquarters, secured a thirtv da3's leave of 
absence in order to be present at his own wedding. 
Nothing now could make his face so long as it was 
next morning at the mess breakfast, when an orderly 
brought, and when the adjutant read aloud a general 
order from headquarters. Army of the Potomac, 
cancelling all officers' leaves "pending the present 


Operations of this army." A premature chuckle 
from one of the conspirators exposed the forgery 
and lightened the doctor's heart. 

It was not in every place and presence however, 
that even a full surgeon could indulge his natural 
bent for humorous relation, as indeed the chief of 
our medical staff discovered, when, after convulsing 
a Court Martial with a vivid description of a pig 
hunt, where he came in at the death to find the pris- 
oners cutting up the pig, and the Adjutant General 
of the division "presiding over the meeting," he 
found his reward in "plans and specifications," upon 
whix:h he himself was tried for contempt of court, or 
something to that effect. 

St. Patrick's Day was always a day of great jol- 
lity, for the religious children of that holy bishop 
and his cherished isle are quick to break forth into 
mirth and sport when opportunity is offered. The 
festival of 1863, however, closed with a strange 
accident and a sad tragedy. 

A course had been provided for horse racing, and 
after the races laid down in the programme had 
been run, a variety of scrub matches were made up 
extanfoo'c. Unfortunately it happened that two of 
these were under way at the same time and in op- 
posite directions, and at the height of their speed, 
two horses came in collision so directly, and with 
such a fearful shock as to cause the instant death of 
both animals, the actual death of one, and the 
apparent death of both the riders. He who escaped 
at last, was the dear foe of our Qjiartermaster 


Hoyt, who, over the senseless body pronounced the 
officer's eulogy, and expressed his deep contrition 
for all that he had ever said or done to offend the 
sufferer, but with the reserved proviso that "if he 
does get well this all goes for nothing." 


' I "^HE commencement of the year 1863 brought 
"^ the not unwelcome announcement to the Army 
of the Potomac that General Burnside had been 
relieved from the command, and General Hooker 
appointed in his stead. The disastrous failure at 
Fredericksburg, and the rather absurd attempt which 
will be known in history as the "mud march," 
had not increased the confidence of the army in 
Burnside's ability, and it was with feelings of satis- 
faction that the soldiers heard the order promulgated 
which relieved him and appointed his successor. 
Notwithstanding some grave defects in the character 
and habits of General Hooker, as a soldier he had 
enlisted the confidence and won the affections of 
the men. The plucky qualities which had given to 
him the name of "Fighting Joe," seemed to be an 
assurance of that activity and energy that were so 
necessary to the successful ending of the contest, 
while his kindly nature, and his genial, social tem- 
perament, won the love and good wishes of all who 
came in contact with him. In appearance, when in 
command, he represented the dashing, chivalrous 
soldier, of whom we had read in history and fiction, 



inspiring confidence and awakening our enthusiasm. 
As he rode along the line, while reviewing the 5th 
Corps, mounted upon a snow-white steed, horse and 
rider seemingl}- but one, erect in all the pride of 
command, his hair nearly white, contrasting strongly 
with his ruddy complexion, he looked the perfect 
ideal of a dashing, gallant, brave commander. 
We soon learned that his skill in organization fully 
equalled his bravery upon the battle-field, and the 
results were apparent in the improved discipline and 
'morale of the troops. To his administration must 
be given the credit of the introduction of the corps 
badges, which proved of great value in the suc- 
ceeding days of the war. 

It would be useless, tiresome perhaps, to describe 
the regular routine performed by the 3 2d during 
the days and weeks that succeeded. Suffice it to 
say, that it consisted principall}^ of picket and guard 
duty, with details for road building, and the con- 
stant drill and discipline so necessary to prepare the 
soldier for the more severe labors of the march, and 
the sterner duties of the battle-field. With the 
warmer weather of the spring came orders which 
told us that the campaign was soon to begin ; bag- 
gage must be forwarded to Washington, clothing 
must be furnished, deficiences in ordnance supplied ; 
these, together with orders for the return of men on 
leave and detached service, informed the soldier as 
clearly as if it had been promulgated in positive 
terms, that active duties were to commence, that 
a battle was soon to be fought. On the 8th of 


April, President Lincoln reviewed the army, and 
the sight of a hundred thousand men prepared for 
review was indeed impressive. General Hooker was 
excusable, perhaps, in speaking of his command at 
this time as "the finest army on the planet." It cer- 
tainly was never in better condition. On the 27th of 
April we left our camp — the Regiment under the 
command of Lieutenant-Colonel Stephenson — with- 
out a thought that we should ever return to it again. 
Starting at noon, we marched to Hartwood Church, 
about eight miles, reaching it at nightfall ; the next 
morning, moving towards Kelley's Ford on the Rap- 
pahannock, near which we bivouacked for the night ; 
taking up the line of march at daybreak, we crossed 
the Rappahannock on a pontoon bridge, coming to 
Ely's Ford on the Rapidan, late in the afternoon of the 
29th. The water at this ford was quite deep, reach- 
ing nearly to the armpits, and running rapidly. 
Most of the men stripped themselves of their cloth- 
ing and waded through, holding their muskets, 
knapsacks, and clothing above their heads, while 
others dashed in without any preparation. Occa- 
sionally a luckless wight would lose his footing in 
the swift-running stream, and float down with the 
current, to be caught by the cavalry men who were 
stationed below for that purpose. Regiment after 
regiment as they arrived, dashed through the waters, 
and a more stirring scene can hardly be imagined. 
All along the banks of the river were men by hun- 
dreds, and thousands — on one side making prepara- 
tion for fording — on the other replacing their 


clothing and repairing damages, while the water was 
crowded with soldiers who lilled the air with shouts, 
laughter, and song. As the darkness came on, the 
numerous fires which the soldiers had made for the 
purpose of drying their clothing, threw a strong 
light over a picture of life and beauty, such as 
can onl}' be witnessed in the experience of army 
life. That night we rested on the south side of the 
Rapidan. The morning of the 30th of April found 
us on the march, and in a few hours we struck that 
region, which, but for the war, would scarcely have 
been known outside of its own limits — now to be re- 
membered by generations yet to come, as the locality 
where were fought some of the bloodiest battles 
known in history — the Wilderness. 

Some description of the territory may not come 
amiss to those who have grown up since the bloody 
scenes of the war for the Union were enacted there. 
It comprises a tract of land probably more than twenty 
miles in circumference ; a nearly unbroken expanse 
of forest and thicket. A large portion is covered 
with a dense growth of low, scrub oaks, briars, and 
shrubs, with occasionally a spot where the trees 
have attained to more lofty proportions. For miles 
you can travel witliout a change, seeing only the 
loathsome snake as it glides across your path, and 
uncheered by the voices of the birds, for the song- 
sters of the day find no home in its thickets, only 
the lonel}' night-bird inhabiting its gloom}- depths. 
Everything about it is wild and desolate. The sun 
hardly penetrates through its gloom, and the trav- 
ellei, oppressed with its loneliness and desolation, 


hurries through that he may reach the more genial 
spots beyond, and feel the cheering rays of God's 

Near one border of this region, at the junction of 
roads that lead from Fredericksburg and United 
States Ford, is Chancellorsville ; not a town, not a 
village, but simply a tract of cleared land surround- 
ing one brick house, said to have been erected for a 
private residence, but used at the commencement of 
the war as a roadside tavern. Through the forest 
we marched to Chancellorsville, near which we 
bivouacked for the night. 

May ist, 1863, our Regiment led the division 
which marched not south-east in the direction of the 
plank road, but by a road which led east and north- 
east, in the direction of Bank's Ford. Artillery 
and picket firing had been heard for some time, but 
we were in thick woods. Covered by flankers and 
skirmishers we moved on sometimes very rapidly, 
until within less than four miles of Fredericksburg. 
The day was fine and with the exception of some 
cavalry pickets, we saw no enemy, but there was 
a sound of heavy firing on our right in the direction 
of the plank road, and as we advanced it seemed 
to become more distant and almost exactly in our 

By the excitement apparent among General 
Griffin's staff' it was evident that things were not 
going right, and at last the order was given to face 
about, and we took the back track at a killing pace. 
As we neared Chancellorsville again, there ^vas 


some pretty sharp artillery and infantry skirmishing 
going on just ahead, and as night drew on we were 
halted in the road in line of battle facing south, 
with skirmishers in front. 

It seems that the regular division of our corps 
had been roughly handled and driven back, thus 
separating us from the army, and we were kept 
all that night marching and counter-marching about 
the country. It was a bright moonlight night, but 
dusky in the woods. There were long waits, but 
not enough for sleep, and it was long after da3dight 
when we got out of the forest and came upon the 
3d division of our corps, and found ourselves wel- 
comed as men who had been lost but were found. 

On the morning of May 2d we were posted on the 
extreme left of the army and ordered to build breast- 
works. The axe and the spade were soon busily at 
work, and before night a formidable barrier had 
been erected against any attack. About sunset there 
was some slight skirmishing, and the men stood in 
line awaiting an attack, but none came. All was 
still as night ; not a sound was heard except the low 
murmuring of voices. Even the dropping fire of 
the pickets had ceased, when suddenly on our right 
there burst on the air the sound of a volley of 
musketry accompanied by the wild rebel yell that 
was so familiar to the soldier of the Union. From 
the first it seemed to come towards us like a torrent, 
constant and resistless. The men stood, musket in 
hand, peering into the gloom, every nerve strung, 
ready to meet the attack, but it did not reach us, 


and ceased suddenly at last. This was the famous 
flank attack by Stonewall Jackson upon the nth 
Corps under General Howard, which was ended 
thus abruptly by the death of the rebel commander. 
On the morning of the 3d we relieved and changed 
positions with the nth Corps. Our new position 
was just at the right of Chancellorsville house, by 
the side of the road ; before us a cleared plain prob- 
ably two hundred yards wide, beyond which was a 
forest. Again we were ordered to throw up earth- 
works, and the men were busily at work all day. 
Our brigade was formed in two lines, the 32d being 
a part of the front line, where it remained until the 
army fell back. 

About noon on the 4th our brigade received orders 
to advance across the plain into the woods. That 
morning a fire had swept through the woods, burn- 
ing the accumulated leaves, the deposit of years, 
and in addition to the heat of the day, we suffered 
from the hot ashes that arose under our footsteps in 

The purpose of this advance was to feel out the 
enemy and draw his fire, but not to bring on an 
engagement, the object being to ascertain whether 
he was still in force on our front. The move- 
ment was executed in gallant style. The enemy 
received us with a hot fire of musketry and 
artillery, the greater portion of which fortunately 
went over our heads. We were at once ordered 
to retire and did so, under a tremendous shower of 
shot and shell, nearly all of which passed above us. 


We remember with pride the precision with which 
the brigade returned across the field, as coolly as if 
passing in review, rather than under the hre of 
the enemy, a movement which elicited the hearty 
cheers of the division. The most excited individual 
was a non-commissioned officer who, being lightly 
hit by a piece of shell as we entered our earth- 
works, maddened by the stinging pain, turned and 
shook his fist at the invisible foe, abusino- him 
most lustily, amidst the laughter of his companions. 
Our advance demonstrated that the enemy was still 
there, and in a short time they made their appear- 
ance in masses issuing from the edge of the wood, 
but they were received with a fire of artillery that 
sent them reeling back to their defences, leaving 
great numbers of dead and wounded on the field. 

The morning of the 5th came in with a cold, 
heavy rain, making our position that day anything 
but pleasant, but we did not move. As soon as 
darkness came on, the batteries began to withdraw, 
then we could hear the tramp of regiment after regi- 
ment as they moved away, and we soon learned tliat 
the army was retiring across the Rappahannock. 
Still no orders came for us, and we began to realize 
that again our division was to cover the retreat, and 
be the last withdrawn. The ground was soaked with 
water, we could neither sit nor lie down, but crouch- 
ing under the little shelter tents, which afforded 
some protection from the drenching rain, we waited 
for our turn to come. 

It was nearly morning when we started, and 
sunrise when, after wading through mud and water 


often knee deep, we reached United States Ford. 
The engineers were in position there ready to take 
up the pontoons. Striking swiftly across the coun- 
try, hungry, tired, and disheartened, we re-occupied 
before noon our old quarters at Stoneman's and 
the grand movement of General Hooker upon Rich- 
mond was ended. The loss of the 32d was only 
one killed and four wounded. 


A FTER the battle of Chancellorsville the whole 
"*• ■*• army retired to its old position about Stafford 
Court House and Falmouth, on the Rappahannock, 
opposite the City of Fredericksburg. The 3 2d 
Massachusetts was detailed to guard duty along the 
railroad from Acquia Creek ; half of the command 
under Lieutenant-Colonel Stephenson being posted 
at or near the redoubts on Potomac Creek, guard- 
ing the bridge ; the remainder, or right wing, under 
Colonel Prescott, posted south of Stoneman's Switch. 
On Thursday afternoon, May 29th, orders were 
received to break camp and move to Barnett's Ford. 
The left wing moved promptly, but the right wing, 
owing to the temporary absence of Colonel Prescott, 
did not march until after nightfall. A bright full 
moon and cool breeze made marching delightful. 
The way was familiar, the roads fine, and the men, 
in the best of spirits, laughed and sung as they 
went. At about midnight this hilarity had subsided, 
and the little column was jogging sleepily along the 
way, which wound through a deep wood in the 
vicinity of Hartwood Church. Suddenh', at a sharp 
turn of the road, where the moonlight fell bright as 



day, came a stern call "Halt! who goes there?" 
and a dozen horsemen, springing from the shadow, 
stood barring the way, bringing forward their car- 
bines with a threatening click as they appeared. 
The column, however, not halting, pressed forward 
into the light, showing the glittering muskets of 
the men and something of their number. The 
horsemen seemed to suddenly abandon their pur- 
pose, for, without a word of parley, they turned 
their horses into the woods and slipped past us 
under cover of the darkness. We recognized them, 
when too late, as a band of guerillas, and learned 
• more concerning them at the hrst picket post we 

During our stay at the fords of the Rappahannock, 
guerillas harrassed us in various ways, hovering 
around us, indeed, until we neared the border of 
Maryland. Now a portion of our wagon train 
would be run off, and an officer would be spirited 
away when on outpost duty or riding from one 
camp to another. Again and again the mail was 
stopped and rifled, the carrier shot or captured. 
Indeed, these things became of so frequent occur- 
rence that stringent orders came from headquarters 
forbidding officers or men straying beyond the limits 
of their camp guards. Many were the sensational 
rumors concerning the guerillas and their Chief 
Mosby. One of our cavalry officers used to sa}' that 
he never could catch a guerilla, but after a long 
chase occasionally found a man wearing spurs, en- 
gaged in digging a well. 


At Hartwood Church the two wings of the Regi- 
ment were again united, and moved on the following 
day past Barnett's to Kemper's Ford. Mrs. Kemper 
and her daughter were the only inmates of their 
mansion, Mr. Kemper being "away," which meant 
in the rebel army, and of the swarms of servants 
which no doubt once made the quarters lively, there 
remained only two or three small girls and an idiot 

Our stay here was one of the bright spots of army 
experience. The location was delightful and the 
duty light. We had a detail on guard at the ford 
and pickets along the river bank ; opposite to us on 
the other shore, and within talking distance, were 
the rebel pickets, but no shots were exchanged, and 
all was peaceful and quiet. 

We had extended to the family such protection as 
common courtesy demanded, and when we were 
about to leave, a few of the officers called to say 
good-bye, and found the ladies distressed and in 
tears on account of our departure, or the dread of 
what might come afterwards. They told us that 
ours was the first Massachusetts regiment that had 
been stationed there ; that they had been taught to 
believe that Massachusetts men were vile and wicked ; 
"but," said one of them, "we have received from no 
other soldiers such unvarying courtesy and consider- 
ation ; we have discovered our mistake, and shall 
know how to defend them from such aspersions in 
the future." Promising in reply to their urgency 
that, if taken prisoners and if possible, we would 



communicate with them, we took our leave, with the 
impression that it was well to treat even our enemies 
with kindness. 

On the 9th of June occurred the engagement at 
Brandy Station, said at that time to be the greatest 
cavalry fight of the war, and the Regiment crossed 
the river and covered the approaches to the ford 
while the battle was in progress. They moved out 
about three miles in the direction of Culpepper Court 
House, but encountered no enemy, except a few 
straggling cavalry men, who fled at their approach. 

Now the Regiment was kept continually on the qjii 
vive, under orders to move at a minute's notice, and 
be prepared for long and rapid marches. 

Suddenly the enemy withdrew all his pickets from 
the river, and on the 13th of June we moved in the 
middle of the night, which was ver}- dark, in the 
direction of Morrisville, and on the following night 
we reached Catlett's, our division bringing up the 
rear of the army and guarding the wagon train. 
The weather had now become very summerlike, 
and the days were hot and sultry, and the roads 
heavy with dust. Again we were moving through 
that detestable Manassas country, that debatable 
land, now almost a desert ; the soil uncultivated, 
trodden to powder, the iieldfe overgrown with weeds, 
an arid waste where no water was and no food 
could be obtained, the breeze stifling one with the 
pungent odor of penny-royal, which per\'aded 

June i6th we encamped near Manassas, on the 
Thoroughfare Gap road, and on the following day 


made an ever-memorable march of eighteen or 
twenty miles, under a tropical sun, with a stifling 
air tilled with dust, without a drop of water any- 
where, and the men of all ranks and commands 
falling down by the roadside and dying of heat- 
stroke and exhaustion. The 32d made the best 
record of any regiment in the division on this day, 
encamping at Gum Spring at night with fuller 
ranks than any other. We set out with 230 men 
and came in with 107 in the ranks, and even this 
poor showing was far ahead of most regiments com- 
posing the division. Four soldiers of the division 
died from sunstroke on this dreadful march. Firing 
was heard all day from the direction of Aldie, and 
we were urged forward as rapidly as possible. 

On the 19th we moved to Aldie Gap, with the 
whole of the 5th Corps, passing many fine places 
upon the broad Winchester turnpike. An artillery 
skirmish was going on as we neared the Gap at sun- 
set, and we deployed across the broad fields under 
the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains in fine style, 
bands playing, bugles sounding, etc. At 2 A. M. 
on the morning of the 21st the men were awaked, 
three days rations issued, and we were soon in 
motion up the Gap. As morning broke we defiled 
past Aldie, and on the way down the mountain side 
were passed by thousands of cavalry, under com- 
mand of Generals Pleasanton, Gretrcr, and Kil- 

During that day and the next we had a glorious 
opportunity to witness one of the great cavalr}^ skir- 
mishes of the Army of the Potomac, the enemy's 


cavalry consisting of Fitz Hugh Lee's brigade 
led by Rousseau, and Stuart's cavalry led by Stuart 
himself. We withdrew on the 22d and passed that 
night near Aldie on the side of the hills, looking 
down into the valley, and across to Ashby's Gap. 
Many are the tales since told of what we saw and 
did during those two days of cavalry and infantry 
fighting. On the 21st the Regiment led the infantry 
advance, and on the return was at the rear of the 
column, and covered the cavalry retreat. 

June 26th orders came to move at 3 A. M., and 
from that time we marched rapidly forward across 
the state of Maryland, and until we reached the 
Pennsylvania line. 

Early on the afternoon of July ist, 1863, after 
a march of about ten miles, the 32d reached 
Hanover, Pennsylvania, and as we filed into a 
cleared level piece of grass-land, we congratulated 
ourselves upon the prospect of a long rest and a 
refreshing sleep after the tedious marches and 
broken slumbers of the previous sixteen days. The 
men went cheerily to work preparing food, the great 
difficulty being lack of fuel, for we were in a friendly 
country, and the usual destruction of fences and 
trees was forbidden. But we were soon to find our- 
selves disappointed in our expectations ; for, at 8 
o'clock, orders came to move, and the men discon- 
tentedly packed their knapsacks, giving up all idea 
of rest so much needed and desired. As we 
marched toward Gettysburg, we heard in advance 
the sound of cheering, and soon word came down 


the line that General McClellan was again in com- 
mand of the army. As the news passed along, 
regiment after regiment sent up cheers, and the 
soldiers moved with quickened step and joyful 
hearts. Where this report originated we never 
knew, yet many went into the battle the next day 
thinking they were under the command of the gen- 
eral, who, above all others, had won the love and 
confidence of the Army of the Potomac. Very 
soon, orders came for the musicians to give the 
time for the march, and we stepped off quickly to 
the beat of the drum. This was one of the very 
few occasions on which we used our music while on 
the march during the entire service of the Regiment. 
Our musicians were used, as a general rule, only in 
camp to sound the various calls that marked the 
routine of camp duty, and at guard-mountings and 
parades, and on this occasion we were allowed but 
a few minutes to enjoy the luxury of marching to the 
beat of the drum, for it was stopped by orders from 
an authority higher than our division general, on 
account of the danger of giving information of our 
whereabouts to the enemy. 

We marched nearly ten miles more that night, 
and at midnierht bivouacked two miles distant from 
the spot that was to be the field of the battle of Get- 
tysburg. Ver}' early in the morning, as soon as 
daylight appeared, we moved on to the vicinity of 
Round Top and formed in line of battle. Here the 
32d was detailed to form a skirmish line, to protect 
the extreme flank of the army. Colonel Prescott, 


however, requested that the Regiment be excused 
from this duty, for the reason that it had had no 
experience, and but little instruction in skirmishing. 
The 9th Massachusetts was substituted, fortunately 
for them, and unfortunately for us, for as matters 
turned out, they were not engaged, and did not lose 
a single man during the fight of that da3^ 

We remained inactive for a number of hours, the 
men providing themselves with food, and seeking 
the rest so much required. Officers and men laid 
down under the shelter of a ledge, and entirely 
oblivious to the roaring of the cannon and the 
bursting shell that passed over our heads, slept the 
sleep of the weary. It was the last sleep on earth 
to some of our number ; to others a blessed boon, 
enabling them to endure the exhaustion and pain 
occasioned by wounds received at a later hour. It 
was nearly 3 o'clock in the afternoon before our 
repose was disturbed by orders to move forward. 

Following the general design of these pages, 
to relate only the story of our own Regiment and 
what occurred in its presence, to paint only the pic- 
tures that we saw, there are yet necessary, concern- 
ing the battle of Gettysburg, a few words of more 
general description. 

There had been several days of occasional contact 
between the hostile armies ; each was concentrating 
its scattered corps, and meanwhile manoeuvring to 
secure a favorable position for the inevitable battle. 
On the ist of July the fighting had been heavy, and 
when we joined, the forces on each side were arrayed 
for a decisive contest. 


Seminary Ridge, which was occupied by the 
Confederates, and Cemetery Ridge, which was 
selected for the Federal position, may be called 
parallel ranges of highlands. Between the two the 
country is not a mere valley sloping from the ridges 
to a common centre, but it is broken by knolls and 
swells of land which, like the ridges, are lower to 
the northward (our right) and more rough and 
broken toward the south. 

General Sickles, with the 3d Corps, had, upon his 
own responsibility, advanced his line so that it occu- 
pied, not Cemetery Ridge, as General Meade had 
intended, but the broken swells of land lying 
between the ridges ; and this advance of the left 
corps of Meade's lines, forming a salient angle, 
led to its being selected for the main attack by Lee. 

The line of the Union army was irregularly 
curved, the right bending sharply back and resting 
on Rock Creek, and the left bowed slightly to the 

Between the positions here and at Antietam, there 
were man}^ points of likeness, but the relative situa- 
tion of the combatants was reversed. This time it 
was Lee's army that attacked, while to us fell the 
advantage of the defensive attitude and of the 
interior lines, by which reinforcements could speedily 
be moved from left to right or right to left, as the 
pressure of emergencies required. 

As has already been stated, the 5th Corps was 
held in reserve during the early part of the 2d of 
July, and its position was such that by reason of the 


irregularities of the ground and the frequent patches 
of woodlands, we could see but little of our own 
lines, and of the enemy's nothing except the smoke 
of his batteries on Seminary Ridge. 

The attack of Longstreet's corps, although bravely 
resisted, was too much for Sickles, in his unfortu- 
nate position, to withstand, and the immediate cause 
of our orders to move forward was the break made 
by the enemy in the lines of his corps. Our line of 
battle was hastily formed on the westerly slope of a 
hill, at the foot of which was the bed of a small 
stream then almost dry. 

The division line was, because of the broken 
character of the hillside, exceedingly irregular, and 
walls and ledges were made useful for defence. 

We were hardly established in our position, such 
as it was, before the attack came, the enemy piling 
down in great numbers from the opposite slope and 
covering themselves partially under the hither bank 
of the little stream. They were received by a gall- 
ing fire from the division and driven back from our 
immediate front with great loss into the wood from 
whence they came. The men loaded and fired 
with great rapidity, some using much judgment 
and coolness, making every shot tell in the enemy's 
ranks; others, as is usually the case, excited and 
firing almost at random. 

It was during this part of the fight that Lieutenant 
Barrows, an officer esteemed by all, was instantly 
killed. And here too, before the enemy was 
repulsed, many of our men were killed or wounded. 


Further to the right the Union soldiers were not so 
successful, and another break in our lines from the 
enemy's charges compelled the command to fall 
back, which we did in splendid order, carrying with 
us our dead and wounded. Movincr to the rear and 
left of its first position, the brigade formed in a piece 
of woods bordering upon the wheat-field, which is 
pointed out to visitors as the spot where were 
enacted some of the bloodiest scenes in the battle of 
Gettysburg, This field was surrounded by a stone 
wall, and when we first saw it, was covered with 
waving grain. Forming in line of battle our 
brigade advanced across this field, taking position 
in rear of the stone wall facing the enemy's lines. 
On the right was the 4th Michigan, the 62 d Penn- 
sylvania holding the centre, with the 32d Massa- 
chusetts on the left. The right of the 4th Michigan 
rested near a wood or clumps of thick bushes where 
it should have connected with the left of the ist 
Brigade, but by some mistake, either on the part of 
the general commanding the division, or the officer 
in command of the ist Brigade, that body did not 
advance as far as the 2d, but halted, leaving a large 
gap in the line of the division. Between the two 
brigades was also a steep ravine leading up from 
the ''Devil's Den," a deep hollow in our front. 

We were hardly in position here before the 
attack came again, and the battle waxed hot and 
furious. We had been engaged but a short time 
when Colonel Prescott, supported by two men, went 
to the Lieutenant Colonel and turned over to him the 


command of the Regiment, declaring that he was 
wounded, and must leave the field. The men 
received the fire of the enemy with great coolness, 
and returned it with spirit and success. During all 
this time we had seen nothing of our brigade com- 
mander (Colonel Sweitzer), and Lieutenant Colonel 
Hull, of the 62d Pennsylvania, while in search of 
him, informed Colonel Stephenson of the want of con- 
nection with our troops on the right, urging that some- 
thing should be done at once or we should be flanked 
there. Upon the suggestion that Colonel Jefters, 
of the 4th Michigan, should change front and meet 
the threatened danger, he hastened to communicate 
with that officer, but before the movement could be 
made, the blow came. The enemy moving quietly 
up the ravine charged directly upon the flank of the 
4th Michigan, curling it and the 62 d Pennsylvania 
up like a worm at the touch of fire, and throwing 
them into the greatest confusion. Taking the order 
from an aide-de-camp of the brigade commander, 
who is always supposed to have authority to give 
such commands, the 32d was falling back in good 
order, when, for the first time, we saw our brigadier, 
who, rushing from the woods, rode before the lines, 
ordering the 32d to halt, demanding, with an oath, 
to know why the Regiment was retreating. Indig- 
nantly replying 'that the Regiment was falling back 
under orders from his staff' officer, the Lieutenant 
Colonel ordered the men to face about and stand 
their ground. It was a fatal mistake, and one which 
caused the loss of many brave men. For a few 


minutes we stood ; the enemy on our front, right 
flank, and nearly in our rear, pouring in a terrible 
fire, which the men returned almost with despera- 
tion, until we were again ordered to fall back, which 
we did, fighting our way inch by inch, rebels and 
Union men inextricably mingled, until we reached 
the shelter of the woods. 

Just at this moment Colonel Stephenson fell, shot 
through the face, and Colonel Prescott who appears 
not to have been wounded at all, soon after again 
took the command. 

The Pennsylvania reserves were forming for a 
charge. With a shout and a yell they fell upon the 
now disorganized ranks of the enemy and drove 
them like a flock of sheep for a long distance, almost 
without opposition. The 32d reformed and advanced 
again to the stonewall where they remained undis- 
turbed, for their part in the battle of Gettysburg was 

The whole of this terrible fight was fraught 
with incidents, some grave and touching, and some 
even humorous. One gallant officer having' dis- 
charged the contents of his pistol at the foe, at last 
threw the pistol itself at the head of a rebel. 
Another, wounded and faint sat down behind a large 
boulder. Two rebel soldiers tried to take him pris- 
oner ; then commenced a race around the rock ; all ran 
the same way and he managed to elude them and 
escape. Probably not a soldier could be found who 
could not tell some curious incident which came to his 
knowledge during this fight. It was nearly sundown 


before the battle was ended for the day. We must 
have been engaged three hours, yet so great was 
the excitement and so little did we mark the passing 
minutes that it seemed to have occupied less time 
than has been taken to tell the story. The 32d 
carried two hundred and twenty seven men into the 
action ,and lost eighty one in killed, wounded, and 
missing, among whom was Lieutant Barrows killed, 
and Colonel Stephenson, Captains Dana, Taft, Lieu- 
tenants Steele, Lauriat, and Bowers, wounded. 
The 4th Michigan and 62d Pennsylvania, besides 
their killed and wounded, lost nearly one hundred 
men prisoners, and also lost their colors. Colonel 
Jeffers of the 4th Michigan, probably the only man 
who was killed by the bayonet during the battle 
of Gettysburg, died in defence of his flag. 

The frantic assault by General Lee on the 3d of 
July, fell entirely upon the right and center of the 
Union army, and the left was not attacked. 

Colonel Stephenson gives this vivid description of 
his experience, one of those sad ones that attend a 
soldier's life among the wounded in the rear. 

"On the 3d of July the wounded of the 5th corps 
were taken from the barns and other buildings in the 
immediate vicinity of the battle field, where they 
had been placed during the progress of the fight, to 
a large grove about two miles distant. 

The trains containing hospital supplies and tents 
had not arrived, and the wounded were placed 
under little shelter-tents, such as the soldiers carried 
with them upon the march. We la}' on the bare 


ground without even straw for our beds, and he who 
obtained a knapsack for a pillow deemed himself 

Just at night the attendants brought to the place 
where I was l3'ing, a young soldier of the 32d and 
laid him beside me. It was Charles Ward of New- 
ton. I remembered him well as one of the youngest 
of the Regiment, one whose purity of character, 
and attention to duty had won the esteem and love 
of all who knew him. The attendants placed him 
in the tent, furnished us with canteens of water, and 
left us for the night, for alas, there were thousands 
of wounded men to be cared for, and but little time 
could be spared for any one. My young com- 
panion had been wounded by a ball passing through 
his lungs, and it was with difficulty he could breathe 
while lying down. To relieve him, I laid flat on 
my back, putting up my knees, against which he 
leaned in a sitting posture. All night long we 
remained in this position, and a painful weary night 
it was. At intervals we would catch a few moments 
of sleep ; then waking, wet our wounds with water 
from the canteens, try to converse, and then again 
to sleep. So we wore away the night, longing for 
the light to come. 

No one came near us ; we heard far awa}^ the drop- 
ping fire of musketry on the picket lines, the occa- 
sional booming of the cannon, and the groans wrung 
from the lips of hundreds of wounded men around 
us. My young friend knew that he must die ; never 
again to hear the familiar voices of home, never to 


feel a mother's kiss, away from brothers, sisters, 
and friends ; yet as we talked he told me that he did 
not for a moment regret the course he had taken 
in enlisting in the war of the Union, but that he was 
ready, willing to die, contented in the thought that 
his life was given in the performance of his duty to 
his country." 


* I ''HE day succeeding the battle, we lett Gettys- 
burg in pursuit of the defeated enemy, fol- 
lowed closely by the 6th Corps, by way of 
Emmetsburg, Adamsville, and Middletown to Wil- 
liamsport. Much of this time it rained heavily and 
the roads were bad, but we had the good spirits 
which attend success, and were cheery, as became 
victors. Near Williamsport we encountered the 
enemy, and on the nth and 12th of July pressed 
him back toward the river, but he succeeded in 
crossing the Potomac without further serious loss. 

Perhaps the finest thing that the army ever saw 
was the movement forward in line of battle near 
Williamsport and Hagerstown. As far as the eye 
could reach on either hand were broad open fields 
of grain with here and there little woods, the ground 
being undulating but not broken, and we were 
formed in close column of division by brigade, the 
3d Corps touching our left and the 6th Corps our 
right ; and so we advanced across the wide, yellow 
fields in two dense lines which extended appar- 
ently to the horizon. This movement was con- 
tinued on two successive days. 



Then we tried a flank movement by our left, 
crossed the Potomac on the 17th, near Berlin, and 
keeping east of the Blue Ridge, were at Manassas 
Gap on the 23d, and stood spectators of some pretty 
fighting done by the 3d Corps, who secured posses- 
sion of the pass. On the 26th we were at Warren- 
ton, and remained there until August 8th, when we 
moved to Beverly Ford, and encamped there for five 

Sergeant Spalding, in a letter home, describes our 
camp there as the cosiest he ever saw : " Our camp is 
in a forest of young pines, planted since our arrival. It 
looks beautifully, especially in the evening. I went 
out a little way from our camp last evening to take 
a bird's-eye view of it. How cosy it looked with 
the lights from our tallow candles glimmering 
through the trees from nearly every tent, which 
seemed almost buried in the green foliage that sur- 
rounded it. Our camp is laid out in streets, one for 
each company. At the head of each street is the 
captain's tent, which is surrounded by an artificial 
evergreen hedge with an arched entrance, with some 
device in evergreen wrought into or suspended from 
the arch — as, for instance, Compan}' K has a Mal- 
tese Cross (our corps badge). Company I, of 
Charlestown, has the Bunker Hill Monument. 
Compan}^ D, of Gloucester (fishermen), has an 
anchor, &c., &c. But our tented cities, be they 
ever so comfortable and attractive, are short-lived. 
We build them up to-day and pull them down 
to-morrow. We may be quietly enjoying our 


quarters to-day, and to-morrow be twenty-live miles 
away. Such is a soldier's life." 

On the 1 2th October, 1862, General Porter ordered 
our Colonel to detail one company for detached 
service as guard to the reserve artillery of the army, 
and Company C (Captain Fuller) was detailed. 
When the detail was made it was supposed that it 
would be only for a few weeks, but they did their 
duty so acceptably as to result in being separated 
from the Regiment for more than ten months. 

It was their duty to accompany the trains of the 
artillery reserve on the march, the men being dis- 
tributed along the whole column and on each side 
of it, and they furnished the sentinels about the 
ammunition and supply trains, when parked for the 

The duty was not very severe, and their position 
was one of comparative independence. It was pleas- 
ant to hear that a company of ours received praises 
alike from every commander of the reserve, and 
from the families of the Virginia farmers whose 
premises they had occasion to occupy. Their route 
was the general route of the army, and at Gettys- 
burg they were under sharp fire on the 3d of July, 
when Lee made his last assault, but the total of their 
casualties, while absent from the Regiment, was small. 

They brought back many recollections of pleasant 
camps and stirring scenes, and the story of their 
experiences brought a welcome freshness to the 
gossip of the battalion. They rejoined the Regiment 
near Beverly Ford, August 24th, 1863. 


While we were encamped at Beverly Ford five 
deserters were tried, convicted, and sentenced to be 
shot, and the sentence was executed near our camp 
in the presence of the corps, massed on a hillside 
facing the place of execution. No more solemn 
scene was witnessed in the army than the march of 
those five men from the barn in which they had 
been confined to the graves in which they were to 
lie. They were dressed alike, in white shirts, trou- 
sers, shoes and stockings, and caps. The order of 
procession was as follows : First, the band, playing 
the death march, then four soldiers bearing an 
empty coffin, which was followed by the prisoner 
who was soon to occupy it, guarded by four soldiers, 
two in front with reversed arms, and two behind 
with trailed arms. Then another coffin and another 
prisoner, borne and guarded as described above, 
and so the five doomed men marched across the field 
to their graves, where each, seated upon his coffin, 
was to pay the penalty of desertion by death. 
Although at first they marched with firm and steady 
step, yet they staggered ere they reached the spot 
where they were to face death at the hands of com- 
rades. Eighty men selected from the provost guard 
were there in line, posted to fire the fatal volley. 
When all was read3% the men having been placed 
in position and blindfolded, the officer in command 
of the guard, without a word, but by the motion of 
his sword, indicated the ready — aim — fire, and 
instantly every gun (forty loaded with blank and 
forty with ball cartridge) was discharged and all 


was over. Silently we viewed the solemn spectacle, 
and as silently returned to camp — not with cheerful 
martial airs, as when a faithful soldier, having met 
a soldier's death, is left to his last repose, but 
with the sad ceremony uneffaced, and all deeply 
impressed with the ignominy of such an end. 

On the 15th of September we broke up this pretty 
camp and moved along to Culpepper, with some 
lively skirmishing, and then rested for another 
month with some picket duty but no warring. 

A French Canadian who left without permission 
on our march to Gettysburg, and took to bounty- 
jumping for a living, was detected, returned to us, 
and at this camp was tried, sentenced, and punished 
for his offences in the presence of the entire 

In the middle of a square formed by the troops 
who had been his fellows, one half of his head 
was shaven close, and his shoulder was branded 
with a letter D. The square was then deployed — 
the line formed with open ranks, the front rank faced 
to the rear, and the poor wretcli, under guard, was 
marched down the path thus lined with on-looking 
soldiers, the musicians leading the way playing the 
Rogue's March, and then he was sent from the lines 
as not worthy to associate with an honest soldiery.* 

Here, too, we received a reinforcement of i8o 
drafted men, who were assigned to the different 
companies, and of whom we made good soldiers. 

"The scoundrel's own description of the proceedings was: 
" they shave my head — they burn my back — they march me in 


Between the loth of October and the 29th of 
November the Army of the Potomac and the 
Army of Virginia were wahzing about the country 
between Culpepper and Fairfax. Frequently it 
was "forward and back," sometimes "forward all," 
and occasionally "back to back." Generals Meade 
and Lee called the figures, and we danced to the 
music of artillery and rifles. There was in fact no 
fun in all this ; the campaigning was severe, and 
some of the engagements were marked by sharp 
lighting, but the campaign was mainly one of 

Sunday morning, November 29th, found our corps 
in position, in the centre of the line of battle at 
Mine Run, with orders to be ready to charge the 
enemy's works at a given hour, when a signal gun 
was to be fired. There the two great armies of 
Viginia were brought face to face, each occupying 
a strong natural position, about a mile apart, with a 
deep valley between, through which passed a small 
stream called Mine Run. 

We have said that each army occupied a strong- 
natural position. The Confederate arm}' however, 
had us at a great disadvantage. They knew it and 
expressed it by acts which spoke louder than words 
— coming out from behind their works by hundreds 
in the open field, seemingly to challenge us to 
charge across the valley, which they knew — and so 
did we — would be to many of our number the valley 
of death. For we had to charge down the hill 
across the Run and up the opposite slope, in the 


face of a hundred guns, planted so as to sweep the 
field with grape and canister the moment we came 
within range, and thousands of muskets in the hands 
of the enemy, who were evidently not only ready, 
but anxious to see us storm their position, that they 
might mow us down like grass. 

Before taking our place in the line we were 
ordered to remove our knapsacks and all needless 
baggage that might interfere with our movements 
when the charge was ordered. That w^as the time 
that tried our nerves. The field was before us. The 
obstacles to be met and overcome we could see, and 
with our past experience it w^as evident to all that 
the contemplated movement if executed must involve 
a fearful sacrifice of life on our side. For hours 
we watched, and w^aited in suspense the signal that 
was to open the conflict, and the relief we expe- 
rienced when the order to charge was counter- 
manded, can better be imagined than described. 

At dark we retired a little w^ay from our posi- 
tion in the line of battle, built our camp fires, 
cooked our supper, and laid down to rest. About 
midnight we were aroused, and falling into line 
moved to the right about a mile, where our corps 
joined the 6th corps which occupied a position in 
the woods, and there w^e formed in line of battle. 
The following day wall long be remembered b}^ us 
on account of our bitter conflict with Jack Frost 
instead of Johnnie Reb. The day was extremely 
cold, freezing the water in our canteens, and 
although in danger of freezing ourselves, we were 


ordered not to build fires, or in any way make 
ourselves • conspicuous, for we were within range 
of the enemy's guns. Our situation was one of 
exposure and peril, for if we obeyed orders we 
were sure to perish with the cold, and if we dis- 
obeyed, as sure to draw the enemy's fire, with the 
risk of losing life or limb. We took the latter 
risk — built fires by which to warm ourselves, or 
chased each other in a circle around a tree or stump 
to keep our blood in circulation and our limbs from 
freezing. And when a solid shot or a fragment 
of a shell came whizzing through the woods where 
we lay, we hugged the ground more closely, or 
sought the shelter of some rock or stump or tree, 
until the firing ceased, then resumed our exer- 
cise, or gathered around the fire again to cook our 
coffee, warm ourselves, and make another target for 
the enemy. 

Thus for three days and nights the two great 
armies of Virginia menaced each other across the 
valley of Mine Run. At last the movement was 
abandoned and the campaign ended by the with- 
drawal of our army to the north of the Rappahan- 
nock, and two days afterward we found ourselves 
in what proved to be our winter quarters at Lib- 

While in winter quarters we had the pleasure of 
seeing several ladies about the cantonments, among 
them Mrs. Faxon, the young wife of our surgeon, 
whose experience and memories of the time it may 
be better to render in the first person. 


"P ARLY in the winter of 1864, the 32d was in 
■*-' winter cantonments at Liberty, near Bealton 
Station, on the Orange & Alexandria railroad. Of 
course somebody must have commanded the army, 
but whoever he was, he never called upon me, and 
is of no consequence to my story. My orders to 
join came from an officer much more important in 
my eyes — the surgeon of the 3 2d, who, queerly 
enough, was also my husband. 

After all manner of experiences I arrived at Beal- 
ton Station, a locality which by daylight appeared 
to be a quarter-section of Virginia land and a small, 
rough, and inconvenient platform of planks ; but it 
was evening when I arrived — yes, a dark, rainy, 
December evening. A shadowy form having the 
voice of our garrulous quartermaster waited to wel- 
come me, and by it I was ushered into the damp 
darkness, out of which loomed, by and by, the hazy 
form of an ambulance and two hazy mules — and 
then, but beyond and more misty, the upper half of 
what seemed to be my husband, and the ears of his 
horse. Whether I was sufficiently hearty in my 
greeting I do not know — I am afraid not, for all 



this was not what I had imagined would be my first 
impressions on coming within arm}' lines. 

My idea of an army was made up of brilliant 
sights and stirring sounds. Nice clean flags — 
bright-buttoned uniforms — flying horses and full 
bands of music, were essential parts of the picture 
which my fancy had painted, and here was nothing 
but wet and darkness and mud. Through mud a 
foot deep, the creaking of the vehicle and "soh" of 
the feet of the wading mules, onl}' breaking the 
moist silence — I was driven to the mansion in which 
my husband was quartered, and which was to be 
my home for the winter. Out of all this dreariness, 
however, I stepped into the cheerful light of glow- 
ing windows, and was welcomed to a most hospitable 
wood fire, in front of which was a table set out with 
a smoking supper of tempting odor — and my sur- 
geon appeared no longer misty and uncorporeal, 
but solid humanity, and looking really quite bright 
in the eyes, and happy in my coming. 

The hearty welcome, the bright light, and the 
cheering warmth soon obliterated all memory of the 
weary journey and the dismal night. The fatted 
chicken had been killed for me, and was served 
with hot potatoes, corn-bread, tea, and cold meat. 
A bright little negro girl waited upon me, and it 
added to the pleasant novelty of my position to be 
served by a piece even so small of the " peculiar 

The "mansion" consisted of four rooms, the two 
on the lower floor separated by a hall ; the kitchen 


was a small building across the yard — earth floored 
— and it was not only kitchen but bed-room for the 
black servants, who, however, did not seem to use 
any beds. But all this I did not learn until daylight 
came again, and the drums, fifes, and bugles bursting 
out into reveille woke me amid dreams of home- 
life to the consciousness of my surroundings. Lis- 
tening to that stirring music (how exhilarating even 
now is the bare memory of the reveille) and look- 
ing out from my window upon the camp of our 
Regiment and of many other regiments, seeing 
everywhere the signs of real service, I was more 
than satisfied, and no longer bewailed the absence of 
my ideal army. 

This winter was one of halcyon days to me. 
Accustomed to the rigors of a Northern winter, the 
man}' bright warm days of the season, in Virginia, 
were peculiarl}^ enjoyable. The country had been 
stripped of fences, and our horseback rides were 
limited only by our picket lines. Now we walked 
our horses through the woods, the dry underbrush 
crackling beneath their hoofs — now cantered freely 
over some wide expanse of old fields, — reining 
up to pass some ugly bit of corduroy road, or to 
ford a full water-course. In the foreground might 
be a "mansion," occupied by some general officer 
as his headquarters, or a group of negro huts still 
tenanted by blacks of all ages. In the distance the 
high hills of the Blue Ridge, and perhaps between, 
in the middle distance, picturesque camps of artil- 
lery, cavalry, or infantry. 


A few of the houses were still occupied by 
the families of their owners, among whom we 
made acquaintances ; the able-bodied men were all 
"away," the women said; where, — they never told. 
Besides our almost daily rides, we paid and 
received visits, and exchanged rather limited hos- 
pitalities. Quartermaster Hoyt entertained us fre- 
quently, and although his ^iece de resistance was 
invariably a dish of fish balls, yet having a cook 
who knew how to make good ones, his fare always 
seemed sumptuous. Once we dined with Colonel 
Prescott, who flared out with a joint of roast beef, 
but this was exceptional grandeur. 

Our quarters became quite the evening resort for 
officers of the 3 2d, and the few ladies who were 
there, and the hours passed pleasantly away with 
chat and games and jokes and stories. I could not 
then with any success assume a matronly role, and 
sometimes perhaps actually enjoyed the practical 
jokes which abounded in the camp. Then, too, 
where ladies are but few, they certainly are better 
appreciated than in the crowded halls of fashion, 
and it was pleasant (for I am human and woman) 
to be the attraction in a circle of young and brave 

Please don't anybody think that my time was 
entirely taken up with pleasures or trifling occupa- 
tions. Even doctors need all manner of work done 
for them by their wives — there were some house- 
keeping cares, and the regimental hospital was none 
the worse for having a woman's eye over it. My 


first experience in dressmaking was in behalf of 
Mrs. O., a native neighbor, who had been useful, 
and possibly earned a trifle by mending for officers 
and men. To be sure when it was done it appeared 
that I had made the back of the basque all in one 
piece, without any seam, but that may be the 
fashion some day. No, I was not idle, and all 
days were not bright and happy, but the bright ones 
linger longest in my memory. 

I did, once in a while, wish that in my peaceful 
life there might be mingled, just for seasoning, a 
trifle of real war ; but one evening, when we were 
attending a dance over at the spacious log camp of 
Martin's battery, there came an orderly all splashed 
with mud, with news that a raiding party of the 
enemy was close at hand, and the party scattered, 
infantry officers hurrying back to their regiments, 
and all to their posts. The brass guns, which, 
decked in fresh evergreen, had formed quite a strik- 
ing decoration to the temporary ball-room, were 
hustled away into position. The voices which had 
been saying pretty things to us changed to tones of 
command, hardly softening to tell us that safety 
forbade our return to quarters. Some sort of a hole 
was prepared for our safe-keeping in case of attack, 
but when all was quiet, beds were made in the log 
house assigned to us ladies, of boughs laid on raised 
boards, on which we slept soundly until daylight 
came, when the alarm was over, and it was safe for 
us to ride home. It was very nice for once, but my 
ambition for stirring scenes was fully satisfied. 


Late in the season there was quite a grand ball, 
and on St. Patrick's day a merry party gathered to 
witness the games, races, and sports which had been 
organized by the officers of the 9th Massachusetts 
Regiment in honor of the festival. This was the 
height of the winter's gaiety ; with the milder air of 
spring, we non-combatants must flit away to our 
homes, and leave our soldiers alone to meet the stern 
realities of the coming campaign. 

But there were stern realities too, for us at home, 
as we waited, sometimes in dread, because we 
heard nothing, and yet again trembling for fear that 
we should hear a more dread something — trying 
even, while oppressed thus with terror and anxiety, 
to compose cheerful letters to the dear ones out of 
sight under the war-cloud. Is it wonderful that we 
welcomed with something of a weird satisfaction 
every call in behalf of the soldiers for our time, our 
labor, and our energy, or that we plunged into the 
work of our own sphere with a certain reckless 
desire to drown out in stirring occupation, the care 
and anxiety which haunted each idle hour. 

Can anyone realize in these peaceful days what 
was one of the chief of women's sorrows then — 
that ver}" often that which was the cause of their 
deepest grief and affliction, might be the occasion 
for public and general rejoicing, and that the wife 
of yesterday, the widow of today, must don her 
weeds of mourning at the moment when the country 
clad itself in gay bunting, and threw rockets to the 
sky for very joy that out of bloodshed there had 
come victory. 


TOURING the winter of 1863-4, the portion of 
^^ the Army of the Potomac which included our 
Regiment was encamped in a position to defend the 
railroad between Bealton and Warrenton, from 
attacks by guerillas, and the camp of the 3 2d was 
in close proximity to the village of Liberty, a very 
small place whose name meant, before the war, 
liberty to the white man only, and but for the "little 
unpleasantness" and its results, the name would 
have had no significance to men of color. 

Liberty proved to be an agreeable camp for the 
3 2d, for their rows of tented dwellings were pitched 
on a pleasant wooded slope where the ground was 
dry, with good drainage, an abundant supply of 
water near at hand, and soil less inclined to mud 
than in the greater part of the old Commonwealth 
of Virginia. 

The picket duty was severe, as at this point there 
was a thoroughfare leading directly into the country 
of the enemy, and a railroad bridge, the loss of 
which would cause great annoyance to our own 
army by interrupting our line of communication, and 
cutting off one portion from its base of supply. But 



there was much to enliven us and break the 
monotony of camp life. 

It was a little past midnight on the evening of the 
dance which was so rudely interrupted, that the 
long roll was sounded and, in scarcely more time 
than is necessary to write it, the Regiment was 
under arms and deployed in various directions for 
the protection of the camp. The disturbance was 
caused by a squad of rebel cavalry who had forced 
the picket line at a weak point, their presumable 
object being a raid on the United States paymaster, 
who came into camp that night to pa}- off the brigade ; 
but the yankee soldier generally keeps picket with 
eyes and ears open, and whoever would cross his 
beat must have a feather tread. The paymaster 
(the late Major Holman), although the object of 
the attack, slept quietly through the whole uproar, 
and did not wake until morning. Apparently his 
safe might have been stolen and carried off without 
his being aware of it. We were out about two 
hours, when the enemy having been driven beyond 
our lines, we were sent back to our quarters. 

An amusing incident occurred here one dark night 
which created quite a sensation on the picket line, 
at that time under command of Captain Farnsworth. 
Going the rounds at two o'clock A. M., posts eight, 
nine, and ten were found on the qui vive. The}' 
were stationed in the edge of a wood, where just 
across a narrow strip of grass-land there was another 
belt of forest. For some little time they had heard 
footsteps and other sounds which led them to believe 


that their posts were being reconnoitered by the 
enemy. After waiting some minutes and leaving 
orders that no aggressive movement should be made, 
but that in case any party should be seen to leave 
the opposite wood, the sentinels should order "halt," 
and if not obeyed should fire, the captain passed on 
his tour of inspection. Before the round was com- 
pleted he heard a shot from this direction, succeeded 
by perfect quiet, and when again at post nine the 
sentinel reported that he had done as directed, that 
some object had, in spite of his challenge, continued 
to approach, that he had fired and dropped the 
intruder, who or which, upon examination, proved 
to be a mule. Weil, he ought to have halted. 

It was from this camp that a night expedition was 
sent after deserters. Outside our lines, at distances 
varying from two to four miles, were several dwell- 
ing houses occupied by families for whose protection 
it was common to billet a man on the premises as a 
" safeguard." Such men were not subject to capture 
on this neutral ground, and their posts were very 
desirable, as they were well cared for by those 
under their guardianship, and had little to do, 
plenty of leisure, and often very pleasant society. 
But there were troubles connected with such 
arrangements. The men in camp hearing of the 
attractions of these places so near at hand where 
coffee, salt, and other supplies were exceeding 
scarce, and where gifts of them were acknowledged 
by various favors — were tempted to slip over the 
lines, each with little parcels saved from his abund- 
ant rations, supplemented, perhaps, with a spare 


jackknife and a few needles, to seek adventures 
among the natives. The fact that they ran the risk 
of capture and imprisonment probably added zest to 
such escapades, but was of itself a good reason why 
they should be prevented. In fact, it was within 
this very territory that Major Edmunds and his 
orderly were captured. 

At the roll call at retreat, March 31st, 1864, it 
appeared that several men were "unaccounted for," 
and there was little doubt as to the cause of their 
absence. The colonel, who had previously consid- 
ered the propriety of some action on his part, was 
now at the end of his patience, and determined to 
put a check upon the practice. Sending for an officer 
who was at that time serving on a general court 
martial, and consequently not considered "for duty" 
in the Regiment, he told him of his wishes and 
offered him the command of the detachment which 
should make a detour through a portion of the neu- 
tral territory, and search for and, if possible, capture 
the missing men. 

A detail of twenty-eight men was finally made 
from nearly twice that number who volunteered for 
the duty. Included in this number was one man 
who had been on safeguard duty in the neighbor- 
hood that we proposed to visit, and who could act as 
a guide to the party. 

The party were in light marching order, each 
man with a day's rations and forty rounds of ammu- 
nition in the cartridge boxes, and it left camp an 
hour and a half before midnight, at which hour it 


was intended to reach the house of Colonel N . 

The path was a narrow forest roadway, and for the 
greater part of the distance led through what was 
known as the " three-mile wood." The night was 
moonless and very dark, and the detachment filed 
on, mile after mile, always on the alert and sus- 
picious of every sound, until at last, and in good 
time, they reached the cleared land about Colonel 
N.'s " palatial mansion." Deploying an advance 
guard they proceeded with the utmost caution to 
surround the house, and but for the dogs, who chal- 
lenged loudly, the purpose would have been readily 
accomplished ; but the inmates were speedily astir, 
alarmed by the baying of the hounds, and lights 
danced about from window to window. Whether 
rebel soldiers were among the occupants or not 
could not be told, but soon men came out at the doors, 
and their footsteps could be heard as they ran, but 
no one could see ten feet away to distinguish a man 
from a tree. 

Orders had been given not to fire without command, 
and to give chase in the darkness would risk the loss 
of men without any good result. The party there- 
fore went on cautiously to surround the house, and 
men were posted in such manner as to command 
all approaches to the mansion, with orders to halt 
and arrest whoever attempted to enter or to leave. 
After these guards were posted, the remainder, under 
a sergeant, were marched away for a half mile 
up the road, making considerable noise as they went, 
and then halted to await orders. In the meantime 


the squad about the house was kept quiet in the 
darkness, out of the way of any light from the win- 
dows. After ten minutes had elapsed the door of 
the mansion was opened and some one looked out, 
thinking, no doubt, that the disturbers were well 
away. Then, as if the door opening had been a 
signal, the sound of footsteps was heard approaching 
slowly through the dry leaves and twigs in the woods ; 
then a whispered conversation, and again the steps 
approached. A moment later two men came on, until, 
when within five feet of the commander, they were 
halted with the order, " Surrender, or I fire." At 
first they turned, evidentl}^ with the intention of 
escaping, but changed their minds, saying, '' Don't 
fire, we surrender." These proved to be two of the 
men of whom the expedition was in search. They 
had been in the house, and had started at the alarm, 
thinking that the troops were from the rebel lines ; 
had waited until, as they supposed, the detachment 
had passed on its way, and then were going back to 
the house. Leaving these men under guard the 
house itself was summoned. The door being opened 
by a woman, and the lady of the house called for, 
four of the party entered and were referred to a 
beautiful and accomplished young lady of perhaps 
twenty years. Miss N. received them courteousl}', 
but declared upon her honor that no men from our 
camp had been in the house that day or evening. 
She was informed as politely as possible that there 
was an error in this statement — that two such men 
had already been secured, and that search would be 


made for more. This resulted in the arrest of a 
third man, and having bagged him and apologized 
for the disturbance that had been caused, the party 
moved away. 

"While life lasts," says the captain, who com- 
manded, "I shall not forget the flash of the young 
lady's eyes when I questioned her assertion. I 
have often thought that if every southern soldier had 
to look for approval or disapproval into such a pair 
of eyes, it was no wonder victory often perched on 
their banners when the odds were against them." 

At half past two in the morning the party was 
back again in camp with three prisoners, and found 
that two others who ran from the house had returned 
of their own accord. All of these were of course 
technically deserters, but none were severely pun- 
ished. The result of this expedition was to put a 
stop to a practice by means of which valuable infor- 
mation, no doubt, reached the enemy. 



"piCKET duty may be the most agreeable or it 
■*■ may be the most disagreeable of all the duties 
of a soldier, but it is always an important, and is 
often a dangerous one. 

Picket-guards are formed by details on orders 
from headquarters. Sometimes the guard will 
include the entire regiment, or details from several 
regiments, bvit if the orders are from the battalion 
headquarters, it is usually composed of detach- 
ments from several companies. The officers are 
detailed from the adjutant's roster and the des- 
ignation of the enlisted men from each company 
devolves upon the first or orderly sergeants. The 
officers, non-commissioned officers and men, are 
supposed to be taken for duty in rotation, and woe 
befall the unfortunate orderly who designates one of 
the confirmed growlers out of what he considers 
his turn, as laid down on his own time-table, and 
many are the threats heaped on the head of the ser- 
geants, which happily are never executed. 

Under command of the ranking officer, the 
detachment is marched out and posted to guard the 
line assigned to its protection — usually there is 



merely a chain of sentinels who are relieved at reg- 
ular intervals of time from the main body ; but 
sometimes, and always in the case of detached out- 
posts, the men are divided into groups of three or 
more, under the supervision of the non-commis- 
sioned officers of the guard, while the commander 
of the whole line establishes reserves at points con- 
venient for reinforcing it in case of need, and 
■ assigns to the subalterns the command of various 

Relieved from the wearisome round of camp 
duties and parades, and placed where each man has 
his own responsibilities, and must exercise his own 
judgment, picket duty often becomes an acceptable 
change, both for officers and men. In the warm 
season the men make a sort of picnic of their tour, 
and out on the front edge of the occupying army 
they can frequently obtain articles of food, which, 
although common enough in civil life, are real lux- 
uries to those who have been limited in their diet to 
the rations issued in the army. They bask m the 
sunshine, or loiter in the shade — and when it is 
their turn for repose, the jacknives are busy and the 
chat is lively. 

Sometimes our picket-line would be on a river, 
the opposite bank of which was guarded by the 
enemy, and there would be times of unofficial truce 
when we traded over the stream coffee for tobacco, 
etc., and when we even made visits to each other, 
and talked as freely as if we might not at a 
moment's notice be enemies again. 


But it is one of the unfortunate facts in a soldier's 
life, that picket duty is not confined to quiet times or 
pleasant weather. The growlers usually main- 
tained that it was always stormy when they were 
out on picket, and in three winters that we dwelt in 
tents within the boundaries of Virginia, there were 
many rough times on the picket lines when the 
rain poured down continuously, saturating the 
ground, clinging to the grass in the open, and to 
the undergrowth in the forests, and streaming down 
from the boughs — wet, wet — water, water, every- 
where ; on the ground where w^e slept, on the stone 
or log which was the only seat ; dribbling through 
a corner of the tent, usually down the neck of its 
occupant, or making a little rill oft' one's overcoat 
and into one's boot top. 

Or perhaps it was snow or sleet that stung our 
faces and chilled us to the marrow ; or perhaps, 
worst of all, the clear cold of winter which our 
little picket fires, when they were permitted, did but 
little to overcome. 

There was one occasion while we were at Liberty, 
on which we were indulged with all of these in 
turn. It was early in the spring of '64, the day had 
been warm and rainy, unseasonably warm and quite 
seasonably rainy, the rain continuing into the night 
and the wind rising to a gale that made all manner 
of noises in the wood in which our line was posted. 
The men all soaked through, had hard work to keep 
their ammunition dry and their rifles in condition 
for use, and all of us, uncomfortable as mortals 


could be, feeling as if the night would never pass 
and morning never come, wished more heartily than 
ever "that this cruel war was over," that we might 
have a chance to get in out of the rain. 

All of a sudden the wind shifted to the northwest, 
and we had first hail, then snow, and finally clear 
cold weather, the gale all the time continuing ; the 
men themselves, almost chilled to icicles, were soon 
clothed in armor of ice, which cracked and rustled 
as they tramped along their beat, beneath a clear 
sky and stars that shone with winter brilliancy. 

The morning came at last, and with the rising sun 
there was exhibited one of those marvels of beauty 
which can come only from such a preparation. 
Every twig and branch of tree or shrub, and every 
spear of grass or tuft of herbage clad in a coating 
of ice, blazed with the hue of the rainbow. The 
trees in the forest seemed loaded with jewels, and 
the meadows were strewn with them. 

But the power of the spring sunshine dissolved 
the gorgeous display, and thawed out the sentinels 
from their encasements of ice ; the wind ceased, 
the mildness of the balmy Southern spring returned, 
and soon from every man a cloud of steam rose in 
the quiet air, and as their clothing dried and their 
bodies warmed, the spirits of the men thawed out, 
and they who, in the previous twenty-four hours, 
had passed through various stages of discomfort, 
were cheerily chaffing one another as they made 
their breakfast of hot coffee and soaked cakes of 
what had once been hard-tack, and very likely wrote 


home the next day about the charms of the Southern 
climate, which gave them such delicious spring 
weather in what was at home the winter month of 

Whether it is summer or winter, hot or cold, sun- 
shine or rain, day or night, and however peaceful 
or stormy the scene may be, the picket guard must 
keep their eyes open and their powder dry. Con- 
stituting the outposts of an army which trusts to 
them, they must be always alert against surprise. 
And although we may have been accustomed for 
weeks to exchange friendly civilities with the pickets 
over the river, the time would come when each 
would do his best to kill the other. When some 
change was contemplated, or some movement began 
which it was desirable to conceal from our adver- 
sary, orders would be sent to the pickets to open 
fire on those of the enemy. 

Such orders were of course first notified to the 
other side, and no advantage was taken by either 
of existing truce relations. After that warning, 
whoever showed out of cover was a target for the 
enemy's picket, and frequently no fires were 
allowed, because the light or smoke would aid the 
aim of the foe. 

If the movement was a direct advance from our 
front, the first order would be announced by shouts 
of " Look out, Johnnie, we're coming," and some 
shots sent purposely in the air, and then came the 
driving in of the enem3'^'s pickets. 

Or possibly the boot was on the other leg and it 
was we that were driven in, in which case it was 


our duty to cause all possible delay to the attacking 
force. The reserves were added to the line, and as 
we fell back the whole would be relieved by other 
troops sent forward at the alarm and interposed 
between us and the rebels, whereupon we were 
marched to join our respective regiments and com- 

Sometimes it is desirable to capture some men 
from the pickets of the opposing army, in order or 
in hopes of obtaining information, and sometimes a 
picket is captured for a lark, or because of a favor- 
able chance — a chance which generally implies 
neglect of duty on the part of the captured men. 

In one instance an outpost party of five men, 
believing themselves to be at a safe distance from 
the enemy, ventured to indulge in the luxury of a 
game of cards, for which purpose they placed their 
arms in a stack, and soon became deeply interested 
in the game, from which they were aroused b}' a 
summons to surrender. Upon looking up they dis- 
covered a single man of the enemy, standing 
between them and the stack, his rifle trained on the 
group, and himself so posted as that he could supply 
himself with their rifles after discharging his own. 
Thus he could put two or three of his opponents 
ho7's dc combat, while, all unarmed, thev could not 
possibly harm him ; and so the five surrendered to the 
one, who marched them before him to his own lines. 

When things were livel}^ on the picket lines 
and the men alert, it was wearing business. The 
strain of constant watchfulness, especially at night, 


peering into the gloom and imagining that you see 
forms or hear movements — the knowledge that your 
own life may depend upon the keenness of your 
vision — the fear of mistaking friend for foe — the 
need of quick intelligence and rapid reasoning — all 
make up an exhausting kind of duty. 

At one such time, one of our officers, a brave fel- 
low, but one whose experience of picket duty was 
insufficient, thinking to ascertain the origin of sus- 
picious sounds outside our lines, went out on a scout, 
expecting to return at the point where he left, but 
mistaking his way in the night, he came upon our 
chain of pickets at another post which he had neg- 
lected to warn of his doings. As he continued to 
approach when challenged, the sentinel fired, and 
next da}^ among the casualties reported was, "One 
officer wounded on the picket line, arm, severely.'^ 
No one was to blame but himself. 

That same night the men, nervous from the fre- 
quent firing along the line, one of the posts became 
aware of the sound of steps out in the bush field on 
their front, evidentl}' approaching nearer and nearer ; 
then one of the men could see what seemed to 
be a man crouching near the earth and creeping 
through the brush with frequent hesitation ; finally 
the sentinel challenged, and receiving no reply, 
fired. The crack of his rifle was followed by the 
agonizing grunts and dying squeals of a stray 
Southern porker who had yielded up his life for the 
lost cause. 

It may be that accidents of this last type were 
more frequent than was necessary (there were three 


pigs killed that night), but vigilance on the part of 
the guards is always praiseworthy, and the orders 
against marauding could not apply to such a case, 
even if the result was a good supply of fresh pork- 
chops along the picket lines next day. 


TN the winter of 1863-4, the great majority of the 
-■■ men of the 3 2d reenHsted for a term of three years, 
under an order which in such cases gave the entire 
reenlisting body a furlough of thirty days. It was 
only after much struggling with bumbledom that 
everything was smoothed out and the furlough 
granted, so that the Regiment could return as one 

Leaving the camp and the remainder of the men 
under command of Captain Fuller of Company 
C, the Regiment left for Massachusetts to enjoy its 
vacation. It was a little before noon on Sunday, 
the 17th of January, 1864, a bright and mild winter 
day, that we arrived in Boston, and our first impres- 
sion upon arrival was that all the people of Boston 
were gathered about the Old Colony station, but 
there were enough of them left to line the whole 
route through the city, as we marched first to the 
State House to pay our respects to Governor 
Andrew, and as we moved thence to Faneuil Hall, 
where a bounteous collation awaited us. Notwith- 
standing the day the troops were saluted along the 
line by the cheers of the people, and the salvos of 



At Faneuil Hall, after all had been satisfied with 
the repast, Governor Andrew arose to address them 
and was greeted with hearty cheers. He spoke in 
substance as follows : 

Soldiers: — In the name and in behalf of the Common- 
wealth and of the people of Massachusetts, I greet your 
return once more to your homes and to the soil of the 
venerable Bay State. The cordial voices of the people 
who have welcomed your procession through the streets 
of Boston, tliese waving banners, these booming cannon 
breaking the stillness of our Sabbath day with voices 
echoing the sovnids of battle — all, all bid you welcome — 
welcome home. The grateful hospitality of Boston 
beneatli the venerable arches of Faneuil Hall welcomes you. 
Our hearts, speaking the eloquence of afiection, admira- 
tion, and pride no words of mortal lips can utter, with 
beating throbs bid you welcome. Hail then, soldiers of 
our cause, returning for brief relaxation from the toils, the 
conflicts, the perils of war, hail to your homes. Here Jet 
the war-worn soldier-boy rest for a while, and rejuvenate 
his spirits, refresh his heart, and re-erect his frame. Here, 
too, I trust, shall your ranks be filled by fresh recruits of 
brave and patriotic hearts, imitating your zeal, vicing with 
your courage, and following your example. I cannot, 
soldiers of the Union Army, by words, by eloquence of 
speech, in fitting measure repeat your praise. This 
battle flag, riddled with shot and torn with shell, is more 
eloquent than human voice, more speaking than language, 
more inspiring, more pathetic than music or song. This 
banner tells what you have done ; it reveals what you 
have borne. And it shall be preserved so long as the last 
thread remains, so long as time shall leave a splinter 
of its stafl' — a memorial of your heroism, your patriot- 
ism and your valor. 

While I greet the return of these brave and stalwart 
men to the homes of Massachusetts, I remember those com- 
rades in arms whose forms you have left behind. Yield- 
ing to the shock of battle, many of those l^rave soldier-boys 
to whom, in behalf of the Commonwealth, I bade farewell 


some months ago, fighting for that flag, defending the 
rights and honor of our common country, maintaining the 
liberties of her people, the traditions of the fathers, and 
the rights of humanity — have been laid low. They sleep 
beneath the sod that covers the rude grave of the soldier. 
Oh, rest in peace, ye hero martyrs, until the resurrec- 
tion summons shall call you to that other Home I No 
longer obedient to any earthly voice or any human leader, 
you have made your last report, and in the spirit have 
already ascended to join the Great Commander ! The 
humblest soldiers who have given their lives away, will be 
remembered so long as our country shall preseve a his- 
tory. Their fame will be acknowledged wnth grateful 
affection when ten thousand prouder names shall have 
been forgot. 

" While thousand as absurd as I, 
Cling to their skirts, they still shall fly, 
And spring to immortality." 

I give you praise from the bottom of a grateful heart, 
in behalf of a grateful and patriotic people, for all that 
you have suffered and for all that you have attempted.* 
And now on this holy sabbath day, let us remember with 
the filial thankfulness of sons, with the devoted piety of 
Christians, as well as the exulting confidence of patriots 
what the God of our fathers has done for us, from the 
beginning. Unto Him and not unto us be all the praise 
and the glory. Unto Him who sitteth upon the throne 
and ruleth the nations let us give everlasting ascriptions 
of praise, that through the trials of many a defeat, through 
the despondency of many a temporary repulse, our arms 
have been conducted to many a triumph, and our minds 
to still loftier heights of moral victory. You are fighting 
now for the cause of your country, and also — for Wash- 
ington used to love to declare he drew his sword — "for 
the rights of human nature." And now let all of us, 
living men, on this holy day and on this sacred spot 
where our fathers were wont to meet in the dark hours of 
earlier history — let all of us living men, consecrate 
ourselves anew, by the vows of a new obedience, to our 
country, to himianity, and to God. 


At the hall the Regiment was dismissed, but only 
to meet renewed evidences of cordial hospitality. 
Company I was entertained the same day by the 
civic authorities of Charlestown, and Company K 
the next day at Newton. The officers breakfasted 
with Colonel Parker at the Parker House on Mon- 
day, and on the i6th of February, on the eve of 
their return, dined with him at the Revere House, 
on which latter occasion Governor Andrew was 
present and expressed, as no one could do more 
more heartily or more genially, his appreciation of 
the past service of the Regiment, and his go*od 
wishes for their future. 

Besides these there were balls and dinners and 
entertainments to occupy all the time that the 
soldiers were willing to spare from their home 
enjoyments, until their departure February 17th, and 
on the Monday ensuing the Regiment was again in 
camp at Liberty, with its new title of "Veteran," 
which the 32d was the first, from Massachusetts, to 


TX /"HEN one of the many interviewers of Presi- 
' ^ dent Lincoln introduced the subject of the 
election of his successor, the President is reported 
to have declared, with his wonted quaintness of 
expression, that " it wasn't a good plan to swap 
horses while crossing a stream," by which he was 
understood to argue in favor of his own reelection. 
Unfortunately he limited in practice the force of 
this pithy saying to his own office and his own con- 
tinuance therein. He showed little hesitation in 
" swapping " one general for another, and often 
selected the middle of a very rapid stream as the 
place for the swap. 

The last of these changes — that which placed 
General Grant in commatid of all the armies in 
place of Halleck — was certainly no injury to the 
service. Perhaps the greatest mistake of all, in a 
military point of view, was that which took General 
McClellan from the same position. It was the long- 
continued service of Lee which made him what he 
proved to be — the ablest of the Confederate gen- 
erals. Such a mistake as he made in attacking 
Meade at Gettysburg would, or should have, proved 
the ruin of any Union general. 



But at last we had generals who had come to stay, 
and Grant's obstinate pluck, assisted by Meade's 
tactical ability, well supported by the political 
powers at Washington, were to give us final success. 
April 30th, 1864, we broke camp at Liberty, and 
with the army led by our new General-in-Chief 
Grant, advanced to meet the enemy. The first day's 
march was only five miles. Our division, gathering 
near Rappahannock Station, encamped for the 
night. The next mo'rning we crossed the river for 
the fifteenth time, making another short march to 
Brandy Station. 

May 3d we marched leisurely to Culpepper (dis- 
tance six miles), and halted there several hours. 
Marched all the night following, crossing the 
Rapidan at Germania Ford at eight o'clock in the 
morning, where we halted for breakfast. During 
the day we pushed steadily forward into the Wilder- 
ness, marching till dark, when we bivouacked near 
Wilderness Tavern, in close proximity to the 

May 5th. — Early in the morning we were in line 
of battle, with orders to fortify our position. We 
had an abundance of material with which to build 
breastworks, and axes, spades, and picks were freely 
used by willing hands. In a few hours we built a 
formidable line of defense, behind which we expected 
to fight, but were disappointed (as we had often 
been before) when the order " forward " was 
sounded. About noon we advanced, leaving our 
entrenched position for other troops to occupy. Our 




division, which had the honor of opening the cam- 
paign, moved cautiously forward to attack the 
enemy. Soon we encountered their skirmishers 
and drove them back to their lines. As we 
approached the enem}- the Regiment made quick 
time in crossing a road along which poured a shower 
of grape and canister. Scarcely had we reached 
the shelter of the woods on the opposite side of this 
road when we came under fire of infantry, who gave 
us a warm reception, but were pushed back before 
our steady advance to their second line, where we 
engaged them until dark. 

In this our first engagement in the Wilderness 
campaign our Regiment suffered little, owing to the 
favorable lay of the ground over which we advanced. 
We lost none killed, and but thirteen wounded. 

That night we lay on our arms. There was, how- 
ever, but little chance for sleep, as we were in the 
extreme front, and almost within speaking distance 
of the enemy. Early the following morning the 
fighting was renewed on our right and left, and was 
then very severe. The rattle of musketry and the 
roar of artillery, as it reverberated through the forest, 
was terrific. Although we were under the fire of 
artillery, with the din of battle thundering in our 
ears, man}' of us slept, unable longer to resist 
nature's demand for repose. 

A pine tree standing just in the rear of our line 
of battle was severed about midway by a cannon 
ball, and the top fell to the ground and stood there 
erect beside the trunk. 


Towards midnight we were suddenly withdrawn, 
and after marching (or rather stumbling) through 
the woods in the darkness for about a mile, we halted 
near where we were on the morning of the 5th. 
There we laid down our arms and unconditionally 
surrendered to an overwhelming force — " nature's 
sweet restorer, balmy sleep." 

As it was quite dark when we arrived, we did not 
know that a twelve-pound battery was in position 
behind us and only a few rods distant, until about 
daylight, when it opened fire and brought us to our 
feet in quick time. The occasion was quickly ascer- 
tained. The enemy had assumed the offensive, and 
was advancing in force against our works. They 
were handsomely repulsed, however, and with this 
exception we were not disturbed that day. Several 
times the enemy shelled us, but being protected b}' 
breastworks, we suffered no loss. The line behind 
us was less fortunate, several shells exploding there, 
killing and wounding a number of men. Thus 
we passed the third day of the battle of the Wilder- 

At night the location of both armies was plainly 
indicated by blazing camp-fires, as well as by the 
cheers of the Yanks and the yells of the Rcbs — 
demonstrations that were intended by each to blind 
the other in regard to their contemplated movements. 

About nine o'clock we began our first flank move- 
ment towards Richmond. Neither tongue nor pen 
would do justice to our experience of night marches 
such as this. All night we marched and halted (but 


halted more than we marched). We did not often 
stop to rest, but jogged along at a snail-like pace- 
When our column moved we marched route step, 
arms at will, and when it halted we came to order 
arms and leaned upon our guns, keeping our places 
in the ranks, so as to be on the alert to prevent a 
suprise, ready for any emergency. 

About midnight we had just emerged from the 
woods and, halting in the road, stood leaning on 
our guns. It has been said that soldiers can sleep 
while marching. Whether this be so or not, it is 
certain that at this time three quarters of the men 
were three quarters asleep, and the other quarter 
more so, as we waited there for the column to start. 

At this moment the troops ahead came suddenly 
to the front to meet, as they supposed, an attack of 
the enemy in ambush, which proved to be only a 
squad of stragglers who had stolen away into the 
bushes by the roadside, and turned in for a good 
night's rest, but had been awakened at our approach. 
The sudden alarm created a panic which ran like 
an electric flash through the entire column, sweep- 
ing the soldiers from the road as quickly and effec- 
tually as though a battalion of cavalry had charged 
upon us unawares. Lieutenant-Colonel Stephenson 
was on his horse, but availed himself of the 
momentar}^ halt to drop off' into a gentle slumber. 
Suddenly he was awakened to hnd his horse whirl- 
ing around and himself apparently alone. 

Our double-quick movement in the dark from 
the road to cover eftectuall}^ awakened us, and we 


resumed our places in line, to laugh over our expe- 
rience and continue our tramp till daylight, when we 
halted near Spottsylvania. One would suppose that 
we needed rest and sleep by that time, but instead 
of that our Regiment was ordered to support a bat- 
tery, and we remained during the day (Sunday), 
spending most of the time fortifying the position. 
There was considerable fighting during the day, 
and at its close we moved to a new line of battle, 
which we occupied during the 9th, loth, and nth of 
May. This was within easy rifle range from the 
enemy, and being able only partially to protect our- 
selves behind the breastworks, several casualties 
occurred in the Regiment. 

Sergeant Spalding was hit in the neck by a spent 
ball, which he carefully saved. A man by his side 
was struck in the forehead by a bullet which 
knocked off' his hat, made an ugly scalp wound, 
and finally left him stunned and bleeding ; the first 
symptoms of his revival were a hand outstretched 
and a " Good-bye, boys," to those around him ; but 
he soon recovered enough to go to the rear for 

On the morning of the nth. General Grant sent 
to Washington that memorable dispatch which was 
characteristic of our leader and meant success, 
although at a terrible sacrifice of life, limb and treas- 
ure : " We have ended the sixth day of heavy 
fighting, and expect to fight it out on this line if it 
takes all summer." 

Captain Dana had been on detached service, act- 
ing as aide-de-camp to General Dana, who was in 


command somewhere out West. Having obtained a 
leave of absence of sixty days he returned to the 
Regiment, which he joined here in the Wilderness, 
and resumed command of his company. Early in 
the campaign he " captured " a wooden chair from 
some house as we passed, which he persistently 
carried wherever he went. At every halt the captain 
brought his chair to the ground and sat himself 
down in it comfortably and complacently. In every 
fight his "private chair," as he called it, shared his 
dangers and rode upon his shoulder. In one of our 
scrimmages a rifle shot struck the chair, and the 
captain returned, among his casualties that day as 
wounded, " Private Chair in the leg — badly." 

The 1 2th of May, 1864, is a date neverto be forgotten 
by any of the 32d who were present in the attack on 
Laurel Hill that day. Brief as was the action, the 
loss of the Regiment in proportion to the numbers 
engaged, was greater than in any battle of the war. 

That morning found us where we had been for 
two or three days, in front of Laurel Hill, and dis- 
tant hardly more than a quarter of a mile from the 
works of the enem3^ Between us and them were 
two swells of land, which afforded us some protec- 
tion from the enemy's missiles. The summit of one 
of these was occupied by our pickets, and the other 
by the pickets of the rebels. 

About nine o'clock A. M. we received orders to 
attack the position of the enemy on Laurel Hill, 
and the brigade, commanded by Colonel Prescott, 
advanced with a rush across the intervening space. 


As the line of battle started, it overran the picket 
line — dashed down the little depression in their front, 
over the next rise of ground, but at the foot of Laurel 
Hill the men, whose momentum had carried them 
thus far, faltered under the terrible fire, and laid 
down within a short distance of the enemy's line of 
works. Here the ground did not cover the left of the 
Regiment, and while Colonel Stephenson was trying 
to draw his left under shelter, he saw that the regi- 
ment on his right had broken and was falling back 
in great disorder, and at once ordered the men to 
save themselves. 

The advance had been disastrous, but as usual the 
retreat was far more so. In the 3 2d five bearers 
fell before the colors reached the old position 
behind our works ; of the 190 men who advanced 
in the regimental line, 103 were killed or wounded, 
and from the time that they left the works until the 
remnant had returned, less than thirty minutes had 
elapsed. Among our wounded were Lieutenants 
Lauriat, Hudson, and Farnsworth, Adjutant Kings- 
bur3s and Captains Bancroft and Hamilton ; the 
latter of whom died two months later of his wounds. 

From that day until the 23d, the Regiment was 
almost constantly in position in front of the enemy 
at Spottsylvania Court House and other localities, 
the service varied by repeated change of location all 
in the direction of the left, the building of new 
breastworks, picket duty, etc. 

At the commencement of the war, the shovel was 
derided by a considerable portion of the people of 


the North, and even by the inexperienced and over- 
reckless men in the army, but the soldiers of the 
Army of the Potomac learned from experience the 
value and advantage of the utensil. After long 
and weary marches, the tired soldiers, if placed in 
positions confronting the enemy, would almost 
invariably, and often without orders, throw up 
earthworks before they wrapped themselves in their 
blankets for sleep. 

On the morning of the 23d we resumed our march 
in the direction of the North Anna River, Craw- 
ford's division of our corps, which was composed 
almost entirely of Pennsylvania troops, taking the 

Our destination was Jericho Ford on the North 
Anna. When within a mile or two of the ford, at a 
fork in the road, General Cawford by mistake took 
the wrong way, and had advanced some distance in 
that direction before his error was discovered. 
Without waiting for that division to countermarch, 
General Warren, our corps commander, directed 
General Griffin with his division to cross the ford. 
Our brigade took the advance and forded the stream, 
which was about four feet deep. Reforming at once 
upon a plain, the brigade advanced in line of battle 
into a piece of woods, preceded by the 22d Massa- 
chusetts as skirmishers, under the command of 
Major Burt, one of the most skilful officers in 
command of a skirmish line in the army. We had 
barely entered the woods when our skirmishers drew' 
the fire from the enem^^'s picket line, and the bullets 
came whistling over our heads quite freely. 


The enemy soon fell back, and after gaining some 
ground we were directed to fell trees and erect 
another line of works. The men worked with great 
zeal, but had not hnished when the enemy came 
upon us in full force. General Hill's corps essaying to 
drive us from our position into the river. The attack 
fell upon our division, which received the impetuous 
charge with a steady lire, and the enemy retired. 
Yet, notwithstanding the merciless reception which 
was given them, the Confederates pushed forward 
again about 5 P. M., and finally the line of the 9th 
Massachusetts broke under the pressure, rendering 
our position critical. The enemy poured through 
the interval, thus endangering our whole line ; but 
their headlong course was checked by a well- 
directed fire from a battery hastily placed in posi- 
tion, and served under the eye of General Warren. 

Unable to sustain this raking fire of canister, the 
Confederates gave way, and our line was reformed 
and strengthened. During this time the 32d, which 
formed the left flank of our battle line, maintained a 
continuous fire, the men loading and discharging 
their rifles with great rapidity. It is impossible to 
tell how long this action was in progress, as in the 
excitement of battle one can make but little note of 
the passage of time, but after a sharp, quick 
struggle, which seemed to last but a few minutes, 
and yet probably consumed more than an hour's 
time, the enemy withdrew, baflfled in his attempt to 
force our position. 

If such a thing could well be, this was the most 
enjoyable fight in which we participated during the 


pounding process we were obliged to undergo from 
the Wilderness to Petersburg. It was the only 
engagement in which we had the advantage of 
remaining under the cover of our works and receiv- 
ing the attack of the enemy. In every other action 
during this campaign these conditions were reversed, 
and our comparatively trifling loss demonstrated the 
disadvantage under which we had habitually been 

This engagement proved that the enemy was on 
our front in force, that he had again divined his 
adversary's plan of flanking his army, and that any 
further advance in this direction must be gained by 
hard fighting. We remained in our position during 
the night, receiving no further annoyance from 
the enemy. The next day we were moved to the 
right, and on the 25th again moved a short distance 
in the direction of Hanover Junction, where we 
threw up works and did picket duty until night- 
fall of the 26th, when we received orders to retire, 
which we did silently, leaving our pickets to face the 
enemy until the army had recrossed the North 
Anna. Our division crossed at Qjiarles' Ford, and 
marched all night and the next day in the direction 
of the Pamunkey River. 

After leaving the North Anna our next encounter 
with the enemy was in the vicinity of Mechanics- 
ville. On the morning' of the 30th our brigade 
advanced in line of battle through the Tolopotomy 
Swamp, driving the enemy's skirmish line, which 
ade but little resistance, until we came to open 


fields around Shady Grove Church, where we found 
him in force, protected by earthworks. This advance 
through the woods was very toilsome ; briars, fallen 
trees, and similar obstructions impeding our progress, 
made it difficult to preserve the line of battle. Many 
of the men were badly shod ; some had no covering 
for the feet, yet were compelled to march over briars 
and stumps which abounded. 

The men had started on the campaign well pro- 
vided with shoes — not new, perhaps, but in good 
condition — and twenty-five days' constant service, 
in rain and sun, dust and mud, had left them in a 
pitiable condition. Yet there was no help for it, no 
supplies upon which to draw, for it was the 6th of 
June before we saw our baggage and supply trains. 
During this period of thirty days, neither men nor 
officers could obtain any change of clothing ; the 
best that could be done was to catch a few hours, 
while at rest, for washing, wait for the sun to do the 
drying, and meantime go without. 

During the afternoon there was considerable 
desultory firing, and our loss for the day amounted 
to twenty-one killed or wounded, among them 
Lieutenant George W. Bibby, killed. 

About midnight we were relieved by a brigade of 
the 9th Corps, and went into camp. June ist and 
2d we were in the reserve, but on the 3d were 
aroused before daybreak to take part in the battle of 
Cold Harbor. 

Our part consisted of a charge across an open 
field under a severe fire of grape and canister. We 


drove the enemy out of one line of earthworks and 
into another, where he made a stand. The real 
battle of Cold Harbor, probably, did not occupy 
more than twenty minutes. It was the same along 
the whole line as with us — a rapid charge under a 
galling fire from the enemy, who, protected by 
earthworks of great strength, easily repelled our 
attacks. Our brigade was, perhaps, as successful 
as any, for we did drive the enem}- from his most 
advanced position, but he retired to one of greater 
strength. This attack was made before five o'clock 
in the morning. During the remainder of the day 
we laid quiet, within the redoubt we had captured, 
the enemy occupying his interior line not more than 
two hundred yards away. We kept up a constant 
fire, watching for ever}^ man who had the courage to 
show himself, thus hindering as far as was possible 
the working of the Confederate guns. The defences 
on our front were well constructed, and evidently laid 
out under the supervision of an experienced engineer. 
Indeed we learned from a prisoner that the}^ were 
begun two weeks before we reached the place, by 
order of General Lee, who, it appears, foresaw that 
General Grant would necessarily be brought to this 
point if he continued " to fight it out on that line." 
Between the lines of works occupied by our 
brigade and the enemy, the ground was covered 
with pine-trees felled and slashed across each other, 
making the passage through exceedingly difficult for 
troops, even had they been unopposed. But, in addi- 
tion, the enemy had posted a battery in such a 


position that he could sweep the field with the fire 
of his guns, from which there was no shelter. 

In view of all this we were not much elated when 
we received an order that at six o'clock P. M. we were 
to attack the enemy in our front, without regard to the 
movements of the troops on either flank. Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Stephenson, believing that, under the 
circumstances, the movement could not be success- 
ful, sent to General Griffin, the division commander, 
a description and sketch of the position of the 
enemy and the ground before us, whereupon the 
order was so changed that we were not to advance 
until the 9th Corps, which joined our right, should 
move. It can be imagined how anxiously we watched 
the movements of the 9th, but the hour came, and 
the artillery signal for the charge was unnoticed by 
the troops on our right, who did not budge, and we 
were glad indeed when darkness came on and we 
knew that we had, at least for the time, escaped the 
terrible ordeal we had expected. We know now that 
the order to charge was given to the commanders 
of every corps, but was disregarded by every one ; 
feeling that, after the experiences of the morning, 
another charge would result in fearful loss of life, 
with no effect upon the enemy's position. Our loss 
during the day was ten killed and twenty-one 
wounded. The loss to the Union army was over 
thirteen thousand killed and wounded ; that of the 
Confederates, less than one thousand. 

For a few days after the battle of Cold Harbor 
there seemed to be an intention on the part of Gen- 
eral Grant to commence siege operations. We were 


then about twelve miles from Richmond, and on the 
same ground where, nearly two years before, was 
fought the action of Gaines' Mill — the first of 
McClellan's seven days' battle in 1862. The prospect 
of another campaign in the swamps of the Chicka- 
hominy was not attractive, and no regrets were 
expressed when on the 12th of June, General Grant 
abandoned his attempt to attack Richmond directly, 
and headed his columns for the James River. 

To cover this change of plan, the 5th Corps 
crossed the Chickahominy at Long Bridge, and 
threatened to force a passage through White Oak 
Swamp, but as soon as the rest of the army had 
crossed the James, we took up our march southward, 
and followed to a point a little below Wilcox Land- 
ing, where we were ferried over the river, and on 
the 1 6th the whole army was on the right bank pre- 
paring for a new campaign. 


A FTER the long marches of the spring cam- 
paign of 1864, through the Wilderness to 
Spottsylvania Court House, across the North Anna, 
through the Tolopotomy Swamp to Bethesda Church, 
thence via the Chickahominy, White Oak Swamp, 
and Charles City Court House to the James River, 
the 3 2d Regiment crossed the James and marched 
to a point on the Norfolk Railroad, about three 
miles from Petersburg, where, on the i8th of 
June, they took part in the charge which drove 
the enemy into their last line of intrenchments. 
It was in this action that Colonel George L. Pres- 
cott fell, mortally wounded. While the engage- 
ment was not an entire success, it gave us the 
vantage ground of the crest of a hill, which we 
retained, and whereon we established our line of 
entrenchments ; and this was the position from 
which the Burnside mine was afterwards made and 
exploded. After this line was established, our 
Brigade was ordered to the rear, into camp along 
the Jerusalem plank road, where w^e were held as 
reserves for special duty ; and this was not, as might 
be supposed, light dut}', for while there we were 


224 '^^^E BOMB PROOP'S. 

busy day and night, building a large earthwork fort, 
which was named Fort Prescott in honor of our 
colonel. Here Lieutenant-Colonel Stephenson, suf- 
fering from his wounds, resigned and left us, to 
return to civil life, and Major Edmunds was 
appointed Colonel, Captain Cunningham, Lieuten- 
ant Colonel, and Captain Shepard, Major. 

On the 1 2th of July, after being in reserve some- 
what over three weeks, during which we had been 
called upon twice to reinforce the 2d and 6th Corps 
lines, we were ordered into the trenches, and began 
our life in the bomb proofs. Our first term of 
service there extended from July I2th to August 
i6th, a continuous period of five weeks, and must 
have been experienced to be fully realized. 

In order to give the reader an idea of what a 
bomb proof is, we will describe the method of its 
construction. First, a hole is dug in the ground, 
which, of necessity, when in front of an active 
enemy, must be done under cover of darkness ; this 
hole is perhaps four or five feet deep, providing the 
ground is not too wet ; then the top is roofed over 
with logs of wood held up by cross timbers ; then 
the earth which has been dug" out is thrown over the 
logs, which makes the whole comparatively water- 
tight and proof against solid shot or shells, such as 
the enemy seemed to delight in tossing over into our 
lines in season and out of season, giving us frequent 
surprises and placing some of us hors du combat. 
There were, of course, openings to these subter- 
ranean caverns so that those who were to occup}^ 


them could crawl in and out. The openings were 
usually not much larger than was needed for a man 
comfortably to get in and out, and had an adjustable 
log to cover the major portion of the aperture, so 
arranged that it could be mov^ed on and oft' at 
pleasure. This entrance was left on the side oppo- 
site the enem}^ so that direct shots could not pene- 
trate it, the only danger on that side being from 
shells exploded among the bomb proofs casting their 
fragments through the doorways into our under- 
ground domiciles. This would, after all, occasion- 
ally occur, sometimes arousing a sleeping soldier 
with a summons to another world. If one could 
choose the ground where he would locate such an 
underground mansion, he might make it a dry and 
comfortable abode, and one that would be compara- 
tively healthy ; but the ground assigned to the 32d 
was a clay soil, rather springy, where in many places 
two feet of excavation brought us to water, there- 
fore a part of the domicile had to be above ground ; 
and this was protected by inclined timbers, built 
like a lean-to, with a palisade front to make it proof 
against the ordinary shot and shell. 

There were many exciting scenes and occurrences 
among the bomb proofs. Occasionally, in the middle 
of the night, a solid shot or a shell would come 
singing through the air and pounce down on one of 
the huts where half-a-dozen soldiers were dozing 
away, and the shock would startle them so that for 
a short time they would hardly know whether it was 
an earthquake or an attack by the enemy, but 


finding that the roof had not fallen in, and seeing no 
danger at hand, they would usually turn over and 
resume their slumbers. 

Within these huts we were obliged to pass our 
time when off duty and, as would be naturally 
expected, they proved a fruitful source of sickness. 

Many of our men, delirious with malarial fever, 
were sent from the bomb proofs to the hospital, 
where they were dosed, first with a medicine com- 
posed largely of spirits of turpentine, next with 
strong acids, and then with quinine and spirituous 
liquors. If there is anything that will take the con- 
ceit out of a man in a short space of time, it is this 
malarial fever when it gets a good hold. It is won- 
derfully tenacious in its grip when once it does get 
hold, leaving the strong man when it must, but 
never leaving the weak man while the breath of life 
remains in him. 

On Saturday the 30th of July, the Burnside mine 
as it was called, was exploded, but the result was 
hardly what had been hoped and expected. There 
was indeed a great panic among the enem}-, but the 
advance obtained for our lines was inconsiderable, 
and the fear of similar incidents was not confined to 
the rebel troops. Men thought and some spoke of 
possible counter-mines, and to the dangers of war 
which had become in some degree familiar, there 
was now added another and an unpleasant possiblity 
— of an irresistible explosion from beneath : one 
which bayonets could not repel, and from which our 
bomb proofs could afford no protection. Confined to 


unhealthy caves when not exposed to more palpable 
dangers, deprived of opportunity for wholesome 
exercise and limited by the circumstances in the 
range of our diet, wearied by excitement and worn 
down by constant new alarms, it is no wonder that 
our numbers decreased nor that men were des- 

Scarcely a day passed that some were not 
killed or wounded, and sickness was more effective 
than gunpowder in sending men to the rear or 
putting them out of the fight. 

Our second tour of duty in the trenches was from 
the ist to the 3d of September, — but it was in a 
drier place, and we suffered comparatively little. 

Five weeks in the bomb proofs depleted the Regi- 
ment as much as any whole campaign in the field 
had done before, and it was with glad hearts that 
we received the order to give place to a relieving 

Surgeon Faxon of the 3 2d was placed in com- 
mand of the hospital of the 5th corps, near City 
Point, and when the army had settled down to the 
seige of Petersburg, Mrs. Faxon was ordered to the 
front, and a description of the hospital and of hos- 
pital life from her point of view will not be uninter- 


TT was a bright, warm, September afternoon in 
^ 1864, when the hospital transport, on which I 
was a passenger, loosed from the Seventh street 
landing in Washington and steamed away down the 
Potomac and out into Chesapeake Bay. So long as 
daylight lasted there were many objects of interest 
to occupy my eyes and thoughts, and when night 
closed in, finding that sleep would be an impossibility 
in the stifling heat of a state-room, I willingly resigned 
myself to the idea of passing the night on deck, for 
the sky was cloudless, and the full moon shone on 
the wide expanse of quiet waters. 

The next afternoon we were steaming up the 
James River, under wooded banks, by neglected 
fields, past deserted plantations. Here and there 
might be seen some great homestead such as 
Carter's, which had escaped destruction, standing 
patriarchally among its negro quarters and numer- 
ous outbuildings, but even these few were evidently 
deserted and desolate. 

About sunset, having passed Harrison's Landing, 
we seemed to be approaching some great mart of 
trade, so varied and bustling was the scene which 



presented itself to us. Beyond the masts and rig- 
ging, and the smoke stacks and steam of the water 
craft, were seen groups of tents, long ranges of 
whitewashed barracks, log-huts and shanties of 
every shape bearing the signs of sutlers and licensed 
traders. Amonir these were movino; uniformed 
soldiers and officers, on foot and mounted, negroes 
driving mule teams, negroes leading mules or 
driving ambulances drawn by mules, sentries on 
duty and detachments relieving guard, and over all 
flags flying gaily. This was City Point, and such 
the busy bustling life of the place which was the 
base of supplies for the army. 

Landing at a wooden pier, I and my luggage 
were loaded into an ambulance. Driving past Gen- 
eral Grant's attractive quarters, by what must have 
been pleasant homes, now occupied for army pur- 
poses, through what had been avenues of noble trees, 
which were now rows of stumps, two miles over a 
rough road brought me to the depot hospital of the 
5th corps. 

A broad drive- way led to the headquarters' tents, 
in front of which a sentinel was on duty. Three 
hospital tents, each 15x17 feet, were arranged, 
opening into each other, and furnished as office, 
parlor, and bedroom. In front was an arbor-like 
enclosure made of green reversible blinds — prob- 
ably borrowed from some "mansion" — which gave 
to one inside an agreeable seclusion. The furniture 
consisting of sofa, chairs, tables, mantel, hanging 
shelves, bureau, wardrobe, and washstand, was 


made of soft, unpainted, unvarnished pine of rude 
construction. Cushions were made of army blan- 
kets, and the bed, with its linen counterpane and 
sheets looked tempting. The tents were floored 
and in each was an open fire-place with broad 
hearth-stone, which I hope did not come from the 
cemetery near by. 

Dinner, an elaborate meal of several courses, 
was speedily served in a neighboring tent, and 
bore witness to what might be accomplished by 
culinary skill, combined with a few pans and a 
stove, in a space four feet square. We were hardly 
seated when, at what proved to be its accustomed 
hour, a band commenced to discourse a programme 
of excellent music. Thus cheerfully my life on the 
Appomatox began. 

The broad drive by which I had entered the camp 
was the street upon which were quartered all the 
officers, the assistant surgeons occupying tents on 
the same line with ours and on each side. 

At right angles to this were streets formed by the 
tents of the patients, nurses, and servants. The 
central street, directly opposite the headquarters, 
was wider than the others, and in the middle of it 
was the dispensary. Three tents, 15x17 each, open- 
ing one into another, extended from street to street. 
In each tent were six beds, by each of which a little 
table held basin and towel. Along the front of the 
tents were plank walks, and above on a framework 
of posts and rails were spread branches of trees to 
furnish shelter from the sun. Across the farther end 


of the streets were the mess tents, seven in number, 
supplied with tables, etc., for the meals of the con- 
valescents. Beyond them was the diet kitchen, five 
tents, and behind them the quarters of the cooks. 
On one border of the hospital camp were the tents 
for the nurses (soldiers) and for the Sanitary Com- 
mission, and at the opposite extremity, under a 
group of persimmon trees, were accommodations for 
the military guard of one hundred men. In one 
corner was the property room — a log-house in 
which, carefully arranged, labelled, and registered, 
were the effects of those who died, and on the outer 
limit were the negro quarters, stables, etc. 

In the rear of our street and parallel to it was 
another, through which a railroad track was laid, 
and there, after a battle, I have seen many car-loads 
of wounded men brought in, lying on the floors of 
rough cars, into which they had been loaded from 
the field of action. All grimy with the heat, dust 
and wounds of battle, they were placed upon 
stretchers, and by the convalescents and nurses 
were carried to the dainty beds. They were first 
washed and put to bed, then supplied with food and 
drink, then visited by the surgeons, assistants, and 

The arrangements for cooking were, of course, 
upon a very large scale. Huge coppers were used 
for boiling, and brick ovens for baking. In one of 
the latter three barrels of beans could be cooked for 
the Sunday dinner. 

A little Scotch woman. Miss Duncan, was in 
charge of this diet kitchen, having a number of 


men under her direction ; no time was frittered away, 
a perfect system was maintained, and the men sub- 
mitted meekly to her despotic sway. I have seen a 
six-foot man rush for sand and mop, to erase an 
accidental spot of grease before it should be discov- 
ered by her sharp eyes. Everything under her 
regime was a miracle of neatness and economy. 
The pans were kept shining and arranged in regu- 
lar order on the shelves, and the store-room was 
dazzlingly neat. The smallest number of rations 
issued from her kitchen was 5,000 per diem, and 
she has sent out as many as 15,000 in one day. 
Nothing was wasted ; the surgeon was bright 
enough to secure beef of the best quality, and even 
hoofs and tails supplied fine jelly and excellent 
soups, and what could not be used directly was sent 
to feed the swine at the piggery. 

The negro camp was filled with families of contra- 
bands who had found their way within our lines. 
These were served with rations, and drawn upon for 
such assistance as they were competent to give. The 
women washed for the hospital, and the men did all 
sorts of rough work. Sleeping from ten to thirty in one 
tent, they lived by day out of doors, and negroes of 
all ages and all colors basked in the sun or hugged 
the fires, or rolled about in the dirt. Many of the 
children came in with only one article of clothing, 
and that very commonl}^ was a coffee bag with a 
hole for the head to go through. One old woman 
said that she came in because she had heard that 
" the champagne was a-goan to open." Rough as 


they fared to our eyes, it was evident they had never 
lived in such sybaritic luxury before. 

Every part of the extensive camp was swept daily ; 
neatness w^as the order everywhere. The precision 
and beauty of the routine, and the exactness which 
followed discipline, spoiled me for civil life at home 
afterward, for I craved that system, punctuality, and 
order which cannot be found except under military 

Passing down the walks in front of the patients' 
tents, their thin white faces claimed one's pity, but 
there was comfort in seeing here, w^ithin hearing of 
the droning voice of the cannon and the tearing 
sound of musketry, that the victims of the battle 
found a quiet place to rest, where, lying in the soft 
air and bounteous sunlight, carefully nursed and 
daintily fed, their wounds might be healed and their 
ills abated before they were again to be plunged 
into the chaos of war. 

In the winter many of the tents were replaced by 
log houses, and some of these became charming 
cottages, having many conveniences. Around my 
house was a little garden w^ith a tiny fence, and oats" 
were sown in the beds to form ornamented borders, 
in w4iich all the corps badges were represented. 

But with the spring all this was to disappear ; the 
army moving forward to final victory, and the imfedi- 
tnenta like myself, going back to civil or civilized 
tameness in the cold North. But even now I have 
but to shut my eyes as my neighbor, the old army 
bugler, practices the calls in the clear winter air, 
and again returns the memor}' of those days. 



OUCH portions of the army as were not stationed 
^ in the trenches were called upon frequently to 
repel attacks, and occasionally were sent out on 
expeditions to destroy railroads, or otherwise to inter- 
fere with the enemy's supplies, and to weaken his 
lines. One of these was the action on the Weldon 
railroad, August i8th, in which we lost thirteen 
men. Another led to the battle of Peeble's Farm, 
September 30th, 1864. 

" The expeditionary force was composed of the 5th 
and 9th Corps, and the movement was as usual off 
to the left. After marching three miles our brigade 
was in front of Fort McRea, and the men were 
ordered to lie down in the edge of a piece of woods 
until the remainder of the attacking force could be 
posted. The 3 2d Massachusetts was directly in 
front of the fort, the 4th Michigan on the right, and 
on the left a brigade of new troops, which however 
took no part in the attack. 

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon when 
the order for the advance was given, and we moved 
out into an open field, finding ourselves, perhaps 
half a mile distant from the fort and the line of the 


breastworks of the enemy. Their batteries opened 
upon us promptly, but old soldiers know that it is 
not the great guns that are most to be feared, and 
our line moved steadily on until it came within rifle 
range of the rebel works and the small arms began 
their deadly work ; then the order for double quick 
was given and the men, sure that the faster they 
moved the less was their risk, dashed forward with 
alacrity and in a few moments closed upon the lines 
of tlie enemy. Colonel Edmands in this charge 
was disabled by a wound in his leg below the knee. 
Colonel Welch, of the 4th Michigan, while in the 
act of urging his horse over the first defences, fell 
mortally wounded upon the breastworks. 

The first to mount the earthworks was a captain 
of "ours"; he stood long enough to swing his 
sword above his head and shouted "come on 
boys, we've got 'em" — then dropped inside closely 
followed b}' two other ofiicers ; one of them had 
jumped the ditch and the other having jumped into 
it, scrambled out with the assistance of his men. 
When these three officers with one soldier mounted 
the parapet, its defenders were still firing, but when 
they were inside, the tort was captured. Sur- 
rounded by our troops, they knew that if four men 
could get in in spite of them, the rest would follow, 
and soldiers quickly learn to know when the day is 
lost and to submit gracefully to the misfortune of 
war. In the fort we made forty prisoners, of whom 
eighteen were officers, and captured one piece of 
artillery — minus the horses — which the gunners 


managed to cut loose and run away, although not 
without a struggle. 

As we gained these the first of their works, the 
enemy retired to his second line of defences and the 
prisoners being speedily secured, we pushed on 
with the rest to the attack. At the inner line there 
was some close work where bayonets and butts of 
rifles came into use, but there was no great resist- 
ance, for the enemy were badly demoralized and 
our chief interest centered in an effort to capture one 
of their colors. The bearer was a tall and vigorous 
man, but one of our comrades, a gallant young fellow, 
grappled the bearer and secured the flag. Just as 
he turned to escape with his prize, one of the rebels 
with a musket tripped our man, who fell, still cling- 
ing to the staft\ but at the same moment the stalwart 
standard-bearer grasped the flag, broke the lance 
and bore away his flag, leaving the northman only 
the wrong end of the stick. 

After carrying the second line, our division was 
halted and left resting on their arms while the 9th 
Corps passed into the front and followed the routed 
forces. They were however soon met by a force 
which proved too strong for them, and after a short 
struggle were in their turn driven backward, losing 
all that they had gained and threatening to cause 
confusion in the whole line, but our General (Griffin, 
called "old Grifl'" for short) seeing the danger and 
having unlimited faith in his command, threw the 
division into the pathway of the rebels, now flushed 
with hope of final victory, and with a few volleys 


checked them and turned the tide again ; darkness 
closed upon the fight and the field was ours. We 
called the battle that of Peeble's farm, because it 
was fought upon the lands of General and Colonel 
Peebles, two officers of the Confederate army. The 
fort was afterward named Fort Welch in honor of 
the gallant Colonel who had baptized it with his 

After the fort was captured and the men disarmed, 
the fight raged for a time along the line, and the 
Confederate prisoners huddled together under the 
breastworks for protection from the missiles which 
were still uncomfortably numerous, and which they 
had no further occasion to brave. 

While thus situated, a large number of men of our 
brigade swarmed in at the entrance of the fort, and 
one of their officers, a captain of a Maine regiment, 
rushing up to a squad of the prisoners, pistol in 
hand, fired, shooting one of them in the head. It 
is charitable to presume that the captain was blinded 
with the excitement of the fight, but he narrowly 
escaped a similar fate himself before his brother 
officers hurried him away ; and it is likely he may 
never forget the shouts of opprobrium and the 
epithets of ignominy which the deed provoked from 
the Union men who witnessed his cowardly or reck- 
less act. 

When the battle commenced, and as we moved to 
the assault, the brigade of new troops which was 
posted on our left was deployed to protect that 
flank, and no doubt thought that their time had 


come. The roar of the battle was in their ears, and 
the sight of killed and maimed was before their 
eyes for the first time, and as is commonly the case 
with raw men at such times, they did not set much 
store on property ; and so finding themselves cum- 
bered with well-crammed knapsacks and new and 
heavy overcoats, they threw them off to improve their 
fighting trim. x\s the veterans came out of the fight 
and saw such wealth scattered about, no doubt some 
of them seized the occasion to better themselves, by 
exchanging old for new, and for some days after- 
wards the new men were apt to claim as their own 
every new overcoat worn by any of our men ; but 
in the army the fashions of dress are so similar that 
it is not easy to see an}' difference between one 
man's coat and another's, and so our Johnny Raws 
had to put their losses down to the debit of experi- 
ence account and draw new clothing for that ^' lost 
in battle." 

The experience of this day was a ver}' cheering 
one to the troops engaged ; we had had our enemy "on 
the hip " and kept him trotting, and we felt that it 
might be what indeed it proved — the beginning of 
a chase which should tire him in the end. 

The 9th Massachusetts Regiment did not reenlist, 
and when their three years' term of service expired, 
their reenlisted men and late recruits were trans- 
ferred to the 3 2d. On the 26th of October the 
enlisted men of the i8th and-22d, whose time of 
service did not expire with that of their regiments, 
were also added to our battalion, increasing its num- 
bers so largely as to require the organization of two 


new companies, L and M, the officers for which 
were transferred with the men. Thus the Regiment 
was now composed of twelve companies, and its 
parades exhibited a front which two years before 
would have been respectable for a brigade. 

By general orders of October 26th, a reorganiza- 
tion of our division was effected, by which we were 
transferred to the third brigade, which was then 
composed entirel}' of veteran regiments. 

On the 6th of December, 1864, we were, as we 
supposed, established in winter quarters, on the 
Jerusalem plank road, in a dr}- and healthy loca- 
tion, when orders came for a movement, and we 
regretful!}' abandoned our improvements and took 
up a line of march along the plank road. 

We marched three miles that afternoon and 
bivouacked by the wayside. The next morning, 
early, we started again toward our destination, of 
which we knew nothing, except that our haversack 
rations meant three days of absence, and the forty 
rounds in our cartridge boxes implied no expectation 
of big fighting. After marching twelve miles the 
command was massed at the bank of the Nottowa}' 
River, which we crossed about midnight and yet 
moved on. At daylight we were at Sussex Court 
House, and at three in the afternoon reached what 
proved to be our objective — the line of the Weldon 
Railroad, five miles from Jarratt's Station. 

Here we rested until dark, when the mtn were 
ranged out along the railway and^set to work to 
destroy it. First the rails were removed ; then the 


sleepers were taken up, piled and tired ; when the 
rails, laid across the burning ties, were heated so 
as to be pliable, they were doubled and twisted in 
such manner that they could not be relaid unless 
rerolled. Then the same operation was repeated 
on another length of track until several miles in all 
were ruined. It was a long day's work, and we 
bivouacked the second night along the road-bed, 
making our cotTee at the smouldering fires. 

On the loth we started on the return march, and 
although it was raining and very muddy, we made 
twenty miles that day, reaching a bivouac near 
Sussex Court House. The next day we passed over 
the Nottoway, and on the 12th reached the Jerusa- 
lem road, and went into camp within a half-mile of 
the spot we had left to make the excursion which 
has been described. Here again we built dug-outs 
and huts, in which we were allowed to remain until 
the early spring. 

On the return march the men did considerable 
foraging on their own account. A goose, a chicken, 
a turkey or duck, seemed to be a part of the men's 
equipment. One squad captured a little pony, har- 
nessed him to a sulky, and loaded the sulky with 
their knapsacks and live stock. One man appeared 
under a stove-pipe hat, but it didn't wear well. At 
night, sweet potatoes, sorghum molasses, and apple- 
jack, were abundant in the camp. 

Our enlisted men were not apt to be damaged by 
the over-supply of spirituous liquors. The sale of 
them was strictlv forbidden, and when a suttler was 


detected as implicated in the trade, his entire stock 
of all kinds of merchandise was confiscated, and in 
some cases distributed among the near-by soldiers. 

Whiskey was used as a medicine, but its value as 
such is problematical. As a restorative for men 
exhausted by labor or by battle, it has, no doubt, a 
good effect, but it should not be given until the work 
is done or the battle fought. It would have been a 
great advantage to the army if the commissioned 
officers had not been able to obtain supplies, for 
Dutch courage is a poor substitute for the real thing, 
and a clear head is even more important to him who 
commands than to him who has only to obey. 

On the Weldon Railroad expedition, some of the 
men, by a mysterious instinct, discovered several bar- 
rels of apple-jack which had been concealed under a 
stack of hay, and many of the canteens were filled 
with spirit by the soldiers as they passed. Sev- 
eral of these, overcome by their potations, fell out 
of the line of our outward march, and probably 
to sleep oft' the fumes, stretched themselves out 
upon the broad veranda of a planter's house. On 
the return march they were found there with their 
throats cut — dead — and the murder was avenefed 
by the burning of the house. No doubt many more 
suffered for their excess by imprisonment in Southern 

The New Year of 1865 found the Regiment in 
log huts near the Jerusalem plank-road, a mile in 
the rear of our works before Petersburg, on swampy 
ground. The two wings of the battalion alternated 



in fatigue duty, building, extending, or strengthen- 
ing works, the labor continuing day and night. 

Suddenly on the afternoon of February 4, 1865, 
orders came to move the next morning (Sunday), 
at daylight. The general impression was that there 
was to be another raid on the railroad connections of 
the enemy, and the camp huts were left standing. 
At daylight on the 5th, the column started and sun- 
set found us near to Nottoway Court House. We 
were ordered out on picket, but were recalled about 
midnight and marched until dawn, when we were 
at Hatcher's run — the point where that stream is 
crossed by the Vaughn road. 

The day before, the 2d Corps had been engaged 
with the enemy here, and the 3 2d was posted in 
some rifle pits on the further side of the Run, out of 
which the rebel forces had been driven. Our Reg- 
iment was the extreme right of the 5th Corps, and 
on its right connected with the left of the 2d Corps 
across the stream. About 2 o'clock P. M. , Crawford's 
division advanced from the left, moved across our 
front and encountered the enemy ; two hours later 
our brigade was put in by General Warren to fill a 
gap in Crawford's line, and the contest was sharp 
until about dusk, when the onset of a fresh body of 
the enemy drove back Crawford's command in some 
confusion. The locality of the action was in a 
thick wood of pines where we could not see to any 
great distance, and as our part of the line held on, 
we found ourselves with the 155th Pennsylvania 
quite alone and flanked on both sides. It required 


considerable coolness and some sharp fighting to 
enable us to get back to the original line of battle, 
and our losses in doing so were heavy — 74 in killed, 
wounded, and missing ; included in which number 
was Major Shepard, who was made prisoner while 
commanding the brigade line of skirmishers, and 
Captain Bowdlear severely wounded. The action 
we named that of Dabney's Mills. 

Until the nth we remained in the same position. 
The weather was very cold and stormy, and the 
enemy's artillery at times very annoying, but no 
infantry attack was made. On the nth the corps 
changed its line slightly, and we soon had a camp 
more comfortable than that we left on the Jerusalem 
road. Here we remained digging and picketing 
until we started out on the final campaign. 

In the action of the 6th, Major Shepard com- 
manded the skirmish line in front of our brigade. 
When Crawford advanced across our front, the 
pickets became useless and the Major proceeded 
to call them in and to ^ join the brigade. While 
marching to the left, as he supposed in the rear of 
the Union line of battle, he happened into the gap 
which had just been made in Crawford's command 
by a Confederate charge, and he suddenly found 
himself in the rear of the enemy ; at the same 
moment he was struck in the head by a musket ball, 
which had just force enough to stretch him sense- 
less on the ground. The Major recovered to find 
himself an object of interest to a half-dozen rebel 
stragglers, one of whom exchanged hats with him, 


another borrowed his nice overcoat, while others 
contented themselves with his various equipments. 
Perhaps Shepard did not recover full consciousness 
until the moment when one of the plunderers ord- 
ered him to take off and yield up his boots. But 
this was the feather too much. Those boots were 
new, elegant, and costly, and the Major made a 
stand in and for them, replying to all threats by the 
declaration that they couldn't have the boots, and 
that he preferred death to the loss of them. 

How the affair might have ended we cannot say, 
had not an officer appeared in sight, to whom the 
Major formally surrendered himself; but thereupon 
the stragglers left him with his boots and his life to 
boot, and both have given him much contentment 
since that day. 


THE month of March is really a spring month 
in the latitude of southern Virginia, and out 
of the attending frosts and thaws, storms, mists, 
and bright daj'S which make up the winter there, we 
had come to the time when the buds were breaking 
out into greenness, and when even within sound of 
the great guns, the venturesome birds would sing the 
lays of spring. 

The whole arm}'- was inspired with the feeling 
that the last campaign was about to open, and that 
the triumph of the Union cause must be at hand. 

For six weeks we had been established in our 
huts, when on the 29th day of March, early in the 
morning, we bade good-bye to our village camp, 
and with the 5th Corps moved out to the rear and 
left. The weather was warm and as the march pro- 
ceeded, personal property in the way of clothing, 
which had been valuable in the winter season, and 
convenient in the camp, began to increase in weight 
and to decrease rapidly in value. As the men real- 
ized that we were off this time in earnest, they 
began to shed their surplus clothing. The roads 
were difficult and the march toilsome. At every 



halt loads were lightened, and spare blankets, over- 
coats, shelters, etc., strewed the line of march, until 
by nightfall all were in light marching trim. 

In the absence of Colonel Edmunds, disabled by 
sickness, and Major Shepard, prisoner of war, 
the Regiment to the end of the campaign was 
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham, 
assisted by Captain Bancroft as acting major. 

The direction of our march finally led us toward 
the Boydtown plank-road, near which in the after- 
noon the 1st and 2d brigades of our division 
became hotly engaged, and ours (the 3d,) was put 
in position in a low, level, and swampy field. During 
the night it set in to rain with that ease and abund- 
ance which seems to be characteristic of the climate, 
and we passed a thoroughly uncomfortable night, 
during which men thought regretfully of the 
blankets and rubber sheets which they had thrown 
away during the previous day. 

Through Thursday the 30th the rain continued, 
but about noon the 32d was deplo3'ed in front as 
skirmishers, with orders to feel for the enemy — 
feeling for him in the sloppy weather, we found 
him behind some log breast^vorks, from which 
we rooted him out and pushed him a short dis- 
tance backward. But the enemy in his turn got to 
be pressing, and our ammunition becoming scarce, 
we were in our turn pushed back to our starting 
point. The Confederates even charged the line 
of our corps, but were repulsed with considerable 


Late in the afternoon, with replenished cartridge 
boxes, we reoccupied the log breastworks, and 
being ordered to feel forward again, did so. This 
time it was a fort and an open field with too much 
artillery for comfort, but we got up close, burrowed, 
and held on. It seems that we had reached around 
to the extreme right of Lee's line of works for the 
defence of Petersburg, and hereafter we were to be 
free of these inconvenient obstructions to our way. 

Friday, March 31st, at 5 A. M., we were 
relieved by the 2d Corps, and moved off again to 
the left, where General Warren posted the divisions 
of his corps, in echelon a little west of the Boyd- 
town road. The ground, owing to the long rain, was 
in a condition very unfavorable to any movement, 
and our formation was hardly completed when the 
2d and 3d divisions, (Crawford's and Ayer's,) were 
attacked and driven back with some loss, but our 
division (the ist,) held its position, and the 2d and 
3d coming into line with us, the whole corps, pre- 
ceded by a strong skirmish line, again advanced and 
pressed the rebels hard. 

Captain Lauriat commanding four companies of 
the 32d was in the line of skirmishers, and seized 
the opportunity, as the lines closed, to draw off on 
the flank, and through a bit of wood got into the 
rear of the enemy's skirmishers and stampeded 
them. So rapid was our advance that at one spot 
we captured the enemy's dinner of bacon, as also a 
number of guns in stacks. 

Our corps was now the extreme left of the Union 
army. Sheridan, with the cavalry, was farther to 


the left, but entirely detached ; he had been attacked 
and pretty roughly handled, and considerable alarm 
was felt for his safety. During the afternoon our 
brigade, under Colonel Pearson, of the 155th Penn- 
sylvania, was sent out to the left to reconnoitre and, 
if possible, to reinforce Sheridan. Entirely sur- 
rounded by skirmishers the brigade moved oft' to the 
left, but, although constantly gaining ground, their 
movement was so retarded by the brisk resistance of 
the enemy's skirmishers, that it was dusk before he 
was driven over Gravelly Run, and the next morn- 
ing we learned that Sheridan was all right. 

April ist, 1865. — Before eight o'clock this morn- 
ing the 5th Corps was again in connection with the 
cavalry Corps, and both were placed under the orders 
of General Sheridan. In fact, for the ensuing eight 
days, we became a sort of foot cavalry — if there be 
any such arm known to the service. 

It was afternoon before there seemed to be any 
real resistance to our onward progress, but then 
there was the sound of heavy firing in front, and we 
soon came upon what was to be the field of the 
battle of Five Forks. The cavalry, dismounted, 
were sharply prodding the enemy with artillery and 
carbines, and the 5th Corps was brought up and 
formed on their right, and pushed rapidly forward. 

We found no enemy in our front, but soon dis- 
covered that we had passed beyond the line of his 
formation ; whereupon, by a wheel to the left and a 
rapid dash, we came in upon his flank and rear, 
surprising, overwhelming, and entirel}" routing his 


forces, more than one-half of whom were made 
prisoners. The lighting was sharp but short, and 
our success complete. 

It is impossible to overrate the exhilaration of the 
men in and after this action. With small loss to 
themselves, they had taken four or five thousand 
prisoners, and the ground was strewn with the arms 
and equipments which the enemy had thrown away 
in his hast}' attempt at flight. The feeling was 
general that now, at last, the superior numbers and 
power of the North were beginning to tell, the 
days of digging and burrowing were over, and the 
day of triumph near at hand. 

That night, by order of General Sheridan, Gen- 
eral Warren was relieved, and General Griffin (our 
"Old Griff") was placed in command of the 5th 
Corps. It is not easy to see what default in duty 
could have been ascribed to Warren, and it is prob- 
able that the real explanation of the change was 
merely Sheridan's preference or partialit}' for Griffin, 
who was patterned more after Sheridan's taste. 

That night, too, Colonel Cunningham was placed 
in command of a brigade of skirmishers, consisting 
of one regiment from each brigade in the ist Divi- 
sion, with orders to deploy them at eight o'clock the 
next morning, and advance directly west. The 32d 
was, of course, one of these regiments, and its com- 
mand devolved upon Captain Bancroft. 

April 2d, Sunday. — Promptly at eight o'clock, 
while the dull muttering of the great guns told us 
of the last struggle far away in front of Petersburg, 


Cunningham deployed his brigade of skirmishers 
under the eye of General Sheridan, and we moved 
on, up hill and down dale, for the most part through 
a region covered with woods and but little inhabited. 

Moving west, as ordered, we came at 11 A. M. to 
the South Side Railroad, where we captured a train 
filled with wounded and sick Confederates, and 
also gobbled up a large number of sound rebels 
and quantities of army stores, and then pressed on, 
still westward, for two miles farther. 

From women and from our prisoners, information 
was obtained to the effect that the remains of two 
divisions of the enemy had passed in this direction 
on their retreat from Five Forks, and also that Gen- 
eral Lee, with the Army of Virginia, was then mov- 
ing out of Petersburg and heading towards the 
south ; and, indeed, we could plainly see the clouds 
of dust which marked their line of march. This 
information was communicated to General Sheridan, 
but at 4 P. M. we were drawn back to the railroad 
and thence marched eight miles in the direction of 
Petersburg, and there bivouacked for the night. 

The next five days were occupied in a most excit- 
ing chase. Sheridan's command, consisting of the 
5 th Corps and the cavahy, entirely detached from 
the army, was hastening to bar Lee's line of retreat. 
On the 3d and 4th we marched twenty miles each 
day ; abandoned wagons, forges, guns, -and caissons 
were seen quite frequently. By our seizing the rail- 
way at Jettersville on the 4th, Lee lost the only 
railroad line by which his escape could be facili- 
tated. On the 8th we marched all the day and half 


of the night to bivouac near Pamplin's Station, on 
the South Side Raih-oad. 

Sunday morning, April 9th, 1865, Lee made a 
last and desperate attempt to escape by cutting his 
way through the lines of the cavalry. We broke 
camp after onl}' two hours rest, and after three hours 
of forced marching in the direction of brisk artil- 
lery firing, came up to the right and rear of the 
cavalry, who had been pressed back for some dis- 
tance by Lee's attack. At the sight of the bayonets 
of our approaching corps the Confederates ceased 
their attempt, and withdrew to their lines of the 

It was the good fortune of the 3 2d Regiment to 
be that day at the head of the column. The day 
was fine but not uncomfortably warm ; the men in 
the best of spirits, fully imbued with the feeling that 
the end was near. In this our last fight the condi- 
tions were unusually favorable for infantry move- 
ments, the country rolling but open, and covered 
with grassy turf. 

A change of direction to the right brought us out 
of the road and into an open field of pasture-land 
which rose before us on a gentle slope for nearly 
half a mile. Entering this field, and without a halt, 
the Regiment formed column of companies, then 
formed divisions, and then deplo3'ed on the rear 
division. No battalion movement was ever executed 
more precisely or with lines better dressed. Wait- 
mg a moment for the other regiments of the brigade 
to complete their formation, we saw before us the 


swell of land on which we stood, and beyond, on 
highei" ground, the enemy's artillery, with infantry 
supports, in line of battle. It was a glorious sight — 
the beauty of the spring morning— the gentle 
movement of the air — the rich garniture of green 
which everywhere clad the view — all were exhil- 
arating, while the universal conviction that the 
enemy, now in full sight, was also within our power, 
inspired the men with such enthusiasm as made 
every man to feel himself invincible. 

Soon came the order, " Forward." The colors 
never came more promptly to the front, and the 
right and left general guides fairly sprang to their 
positions. The enemy being in full sight no skir- 
mishers preceded us. The advance was made 
under a sharp artillery fire, the men stepping out 
with a full thirty-six inch stride. The enemy's front 
line was slowly falling back. At the summit of the 
rising ground, where we received a few stray rifle 
shots, we could see that the ground fell off" for per- 
haps six hundred yards, to where a little stream — 
one of the head waters of the Appomatox — ran 
winding along. Here, just as we expected to receive 
the volleys of the enemv, his firing suddenly ceased, 
and a halt was ordered. 

Colonel Cunninghan, through his field-glass, see- 
ing what seemed to be a flag of truce in our front, 
took the adjutant with him, and, putting spurs to 
their horses, they dashed forward, and soon met a 
mounted officer attended by an orderly, bearing a 
small white flag upon a staft\ This officer announced 


himself as one of General Lee's staff, and said that 
he was the bearer of a message to General Grant 
with a view to surrender. The flag was duly 
reported, and very soon an officer representing Gen- 
eral Grant appeared, and the colonel and adjutant 

Soon the expected surrender of Lee was known 
through all our lines, and the hearts of all were 
joyous and gay — perfectly so, except for a shade of 
regret that we could not have finished a flght which 
promised so well for us. 

The two commanding generals met about eleven 
o'clock in a small house a little way oft' to our right 
and front. Our corps was in line by divisions 
closed in mass, the orders being to keep the men 
well in hand ; but the general talk was that the war 
was over, and that we should soon turn the heads of 
our columns north. 

At 2.30 P. M. we knew that the surrender was a 
fact, and that it would be officiall}^ promulgated at 4 

Meantime was a season of general and heartfelt 
mutual congratulations, during which it was noticed 
that General Gregory's brigade was forming square, 
oft' on the near hillside, and several officers of our 
brigade mounted and rode over to see what was 
going on. 

Brigadier-General Gregory had a gift for prayer 
and speech, and also a resonant voice. From the 
centre of his square he made a rousing good speech 
of congratulation, and then, calling to prayer, com- 
menced a hearty thanksgiving to God for the success 

254 '^"^ LAST CAMPAIGN. 

which had attended our arms, and for the reason- 
able hope of an early return to peaceful homes. 

Just then, miles away to our left, a detachment of 
General Fitz Hugh Lee's cavalry, having sighted a 
Union supply train — being very hungry and not 
knowing of the truce, pitched into the escort with 
artillery and carbines, and the boom, boom, boom 
of his guns smote upon the ear of Gregory. The 
general ceased abruptly, listened, and again boom, 
boom, boom came the sound well known to his 
practiced ear, and then again his voice rang out : 
"Never mind the rest, men — reduce square — form 
brigade line :'' and in three minutes all were ready 
for action. 

The official order came at four o'clock, and after 
a pretty lively evening we were glad to be at rest in 

April lOth. — A very quiet, restful day ; the officers 
and men of the two armies making and returning 
visits. The officers of our Regiment, with others of 
the division, attended General Chamberlain in calls 
of courtesy upon General Lee and other officers of 
the surrendered forces. The Confederates were 
entirely out of rations and, although we were also 
short by reason of our rapid advance and the woful 
condition of the roads, our men readily assented to 
divide the contents of their haversacks with the 
soldiers who had so long been their enemv, and 
throughout the day the officers and men of the two 
armies were to be seen thoroughly commingled. 
Confederate States currency was to be had by the 


April iith was the day appointed for the formal 
surrender of the arms. General Chamberlain, com- 
manding our division, was detailed in charge of the 
ceremony, and our brigade was ordered to receive 
the arms of the rebel infantry. 

At 9 A. M. the brigade was formed in line on a 
road leading from our camp to that of the Confeder- 
ates, its right in the direction of the latter. The 
3 2d Massachusetts was the extreme right of the 
brigade. The Confederate troops came up by 
brigades at route step, arms-at-will. In some regi- 
ments the colors were rolled tightly to the staff, but 
in others the bearers flourished them defiantly as 
they marched. As they approached our line, our 
men stood at shouldered arms, the lines were care- 
fully dressed, and eyes front ; seeing which, and 
appreciating the compliment implied, some of the 
enemy's brigadiers closed up their ranks, and so 
moved along our front with their arms at the shoulder. 
Their files marched past until their right reached 
to our left, when they halted, fronted facing us, 
stacked their arms, hung their accoutrements upon 
the rifles, and then the colorbearer of each regi- 
ment laid his colors across the stacks, and the 
brigade, breaking to its rear, gave room for the next 
to come up in its place, and each successive brigade 
observed the same order of proceeding, upon the 
same ground. 

As the first brigade moved away, a detail of our 
men took the stacks as they stood, and moved them 
up nearer to our line, and the arms from the stacks 


of each succeeding brigade were taken by the same 
detail and piled around the first stacks ; so that 
when the ceremony was ended there was but one 
line of stacks, with the equipments and colors hang- 
ing or lying thereupon. 

Throughout the whole our men behaved nobly — 
not only was there no cheering or exultation, but 
there was, on the contrar}-, a feeling of deep sol- 
dierly sympathy for their gallant enemy, which 
evinced itself in respectful silence, and this conduct 
was appreciated and warmly commended by many 
of the rebel officers. 

It was 4 P. M. before the surrender was com- 
pleted, and the rest of the day and evening was 
given up to jovial congratulations among ourselves. 

After the surrender we were employed for some 
days in guarding the railroads and public property ; 
and then started for Washington*, which we reached 
by easy marches, and on the 12th of May pitched 
our last camp on Arlington Heights. With the 
Army of the Potomac we passed in review before 
the President, on the 22d of May, and on the 29th 
of June started for home. At Philadelphia and 
again at Providence we were refreshed by the hos- 
pitality of the citizens, and about noon of July ist we 
arrived in Boston, marching directly to the Common, 
where the men were furloughed until the 6th. 

On the 6th of Jul}^ the command again assembled 
on Boston Common, and proceeded to Gallops 
Island, where, on the nth July, 1865, it was paid 
ofT and mustered out of service, and the 32d Massa- 
chusetts Infantry was no more. 


Only a narrow strip of water in the bay di\i(U\s 
the two ishmds where were passed its first days and 
its last. 

It was a noble battalion, one which won alike the 
compliments of its generals, and the confidence ol 
its associate regiments. No officer's life was ever 
sacrificed because of any want of steadiness of the 
men, and more than once they executed tactical 
movements under fire, in a manner that would ha\e 
been creditable if done on parade. During and 
since the war great esprit dit corps has been char- 
acteristic of its soldiers. Many of them have 
attained to prominence in the walks of peaceful life, 
to the great rejoicing of their comrades, and many 
have made their final march. — God give them rest 
in peace. 

The extreme length of service in the Regiment 
was three years, seven months, and twenty-five days. 
The total number of officers commissioned in the 
Regiment was 75, of whom 34 were at one time or 
another reported among the casualties, namely : 
Killed or mortally wounded, ~ " 5 

Died of disease contracted in the service, 2 
Wounded and returned to duty, - 17 

Discharged for disability, - - - 10 

Total, _ - _ _ — ^^ 

The total number of men enlisted was 2,286, of 
whom 520 were at some time non-commissioned 
officers, and 60 received commissions. 



There were — 

Killed in battle, - - - - 76 

Died of wounds or disease, - - - 1^4 

Discharged for disability, - - 384 

Total loss to the Regiment by cas- 
ualties, _____ 654 

This total does not include the number of men 
wounded who returned to duty ; nor of those, some 
200 more, who died in captivity or by the roadside 
in severe marches, who are included in the returns 
among the unaccounted for, missing, and deserters. 

The number discharged at the expiration of their 
service was 1,087. 

Of the 37 commissioned officers who were included 
in the final muster out of the Regiment, all except 
seven were promoted from the ranks. 

Roster at the Expiration of Service. 

Colonel : 
J. CUvSHING EDMUNDS, Brevet Brig. General. 

Lieutenant Colonel : 
JAMES A. CUNNINGHAM, Brevet Brig. General. 

Major : 
EDWARD O. SHEPARD, Brevet Lieut. Colonel. 

Adjutant : 

Surgeon : 

Assistant Surgeon : 

JOHN McGregor. 

Co. A. Captain^ Joli" E. Tidd. 

1st Lieut. .^ Abner E. Drury. 
2d L^ient.., 

Co. B. Captain., Ambrose Bancroft, Brevet Major. 

Jst Lieut., Joseph P. Robinson. 
2(i Lieut., William F. Taft. 

Co. C. Captain, Timothy McCartney, Brevet Major. 

1st Lieut., George A. Batchelder. 
2d Lieut.., William F. Tiittle. 


260 Ro,s'n<:R. ' 

Co. D. Captain^ 

1st Lieut.. Loiiug Burrill, commanding Co. 
2d Lieut. ^ Charles N. Gardner. 

Co. E. Captain. 

1st Lieut.., Stephen C. Phinney, comd'g Co. 
2d Lieut.., 

Co. F. Captain. John A. Bowdlear. 

1st Lieut. ^ Asa L. Kneeland. 
2d Lieut.., 

Co. G. Captain., George W. Lauriat. Brevet Major. 

1st Lieut. ^ ]o%. S. Wyman, Capt. not must'd. 
2d L^ieut.^ Charles H. Bartlett. 

Co. H. Captain. William E. Reed. 

1st Lieut.. Augnstns A. Coburn. 
2d Lieut.., ■ 

Co. 1. Captain., Isaac W. Smith. 

1st Lie7it , James II. Clapp. 
2d Lie?it., J:u\^es W. King. 

Co. K. Captain, George A. Hall. 

/st Lieut., Jixmcs P. Wade. 
2d Lieut.., 

Co. L. Captain. yAVi\c% E.March. 

1st Lieut., George H. Ackerman. 
2d. Lieut., 

Co. M. Captain. Charles II. Smith. 

1st Lieut., Thomas Coos. 
2d Lic7it., Lyndon Y. Jenness. 

Unattached and not mustered : 

2d Lieut., D^vight B. Graves. 
2d Lieut., Charles E. Madden. 
2d Lieut., Edward Knights. 


MAR 1 2 1937